Come Now, Let us Reason Together

I see the veins of sin deeply planted in our lives. Not outright blatant sin but the more difficult brokenness’ that stem from our hearts. I look back on my own life, seeing what I now know to be unhealthy decisions, manners of being that led to no good thing, and I see these same subtleties within my children and if I could fly back over the generations I would most likely see many of the same things in the years gone by.

There is as corporate and communal an aspect to sin as to anything and I am quite aware that this brings us to either deeper humility or compounding condemnation.

The latter, this place of heart and soul whereby we place our own sense of condemnation onto others only serves to make matters worse.

Thing is, we’ve all sinned. We are sinners.

Yet because of Jesus Christ this need not bring us to personal despair or to condemnation of our fellow human beings. Condemnation simply reveals our still sin-riddled consciences. Why else would we lash out at others?

Grappling with our sin-state and sin-habits and sins-past we have two choices. We can remain in horror and regret or we can come into the grace of Christ. We can’t do both. The cross demands that we choose.

As a minister of prayer it has been my privilege to stand alongside many, many brave souls as they bring their lives into the grace of Christ. It is hard but liberating work and this opportunity of witnessing freedom and love poured out from God’s heart to theirs has changed me as much as my own personal healing prayer.

I’ve seen healing. I’ve seen freedom. I’ve seen regrets washed away in the blood of Christ. I’ve seen burdens of guilt and shame brought to the cross and heaved off and left there. I’ve seen condemnations changed into compassion.


What we don’t readily realize is that dying to ourselves is as much about dying to our regret as anything. Have you died to regret? Have you brought your shame and guilt and regret to the cross?

These things, regret, guilt, shame, are their own addiction. If we do not loose them off at the cross of Christ then we will go on to worry over them, to fret over them and to nurture them in an odd sick way. If we do this they grow and compact and it won’t take too many years until their poison will seep out into every single other area of life.

It shows up in condemnations and control of others; where we have not yet met the grace of Christ we will demand others to a higher standard than we ourselves have lived. It shows up in pride and an inability to relax, to give way, to allow the Lord his gifts in our lives.

When we live or minister out of compounded regret we become toxic people incapable of the truth of the gospel.

We will sneer at the flirting women. We will reject the beggar man. We will avoid the prostitute.

It shows up in our pride of effort, our beliefs in disqualifications; instead of being innocent till proven guilty we assume guilt until proven innocent. Suspicions rise based on the state of our own hearts.

Wherever our hurt has been this will become our condemnations. Fathers will demand their sons to be perfect. Women will demand their daughter to get their act together. Pastors will demand unity and make purity an idol.

The cross of Christ, however, cuts through all of this. Cleanly. Wholly.

If we will allow it. If we will come under it and receive it’s work in our lives.

I’ve been thinking about Barabbas lately. Because of Christ Barabbas walked away a free man that day.

The worst of all of us walked away. The worst in all of us, freed.

Now Barabbas would have known that he deserved the death penalty and I wonder if he allowed this extravagant gift of life to penetrate his heart, his regrets, or his shame.

If he did allow this Christ-exchanging-grace to penetrate he would have gone on to live a different kind of life. If he didn’t allow it to penetrate he would have gone on to live an even worse life.

It is the same exact choice we all have every single day. Will we allow the grace of Christ (a grace that transforms us from the inside out) to penetrate our hearts and minds, spirits and lives?

To do so we must lay down regret, shame, and condemnation at the foot of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. We then take HIM on, God in all his glory and presence, we enter into the fire of God and allow the dross of our hearts to be burned away.

Condemnations get burned up in the presence of God. Defiling assumptions of others cannot stand the heat.

We find compassion, we live in compassion, we give compassion to everyone around us.

We find forgiveness, we live forgiveness, we give forgiveness to everyone around us.

Christ brings to our communal experience of sin this communal experience of grace. To live out the gospel of Christ is to also bring this communal experience of grace into all of our interactions and relationships. We extend the same manner of God himself, understanding (Isaiah 1:18), compassion (Galatians 6:2), forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32), a generosity of heart and mind (1 John 2:6).

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18


Capturing God’s Heart – Volume 26 – A Glad Heart

2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

It is the cheerful heart that intrigues me.

While this verse speaks about money and our tithes and offerings, I wonder how might the ‘glad heart’ principle apply to the rest of our life?

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Forced Sabbaticals

283 compressedThere is incredible power in sabbaticals. Those times and spaces where the doing is lessened and the being is increased always reaps grand rewards.

This week I’ve been on a forced sabbatical in a sense. I’ve been sick and just not up to snuff and so certainly haven’t accomplished most of what I was hoping to get to.

While I’ve been frustrated and sad through it, playing in the back of my mind is the knowledge of the power of fasting and of Sabbaths. And in an odd way I am glad for this lack of ability, for I know it is setting 2013 up with an investment of less, which always leads to more.

Let me explain, (for I am sure that sounds like gobble-gook).

It is really the power of fasting that is in play. That up-side down law of life that when we are weak God is strong, when we pause and rest in him he shows up, and when we invest in constraint the whole world opens up to us.

Under the tangible of fasting lies the intangible of faith and trust.

Fasting brings us to our knees. Literally speaking fasting is hard work. We find out loud and clear the nature of our humanity and the limitations of our spirit when we fast.

In fasting we are brought low and God is exalted.

In fasting we admit our limitation and acknowledge God’s omnipotence.

Fasting harnesses our less and coupled with God’s most, amazing things abound.

It is the same habit as that of taking a Sabbath. In pausing to rest for one day a week we state in word and deed that we are trusting our livelihood to God. That though the work never ends, though there is always something that must be attended to, we will pause for one day and worship, and trust, and rest.

A Sabbath is simply the power of fasting brought into our work week and our responsibilities.

Sabbaticals are extensions of the same.

Twice through my own last dozen years I had two (complete and separate from each other) years in which I did no ministry, was on no boards, and contributed to community in no way whatsoever.

They were very hard years. They felt like vacuums in my existence. In the midst of such things we wonder if we will ever be useful again.

And yet in the midst we find ourselves. We make friends with self. Being takes the upper hand. Our doing is transformed. Rather than a constant bid to fill the holes in our hearts, doing comes from a much cleaner and purer place once we need not do.

I am convinced that unless we are free to ‘not do’ to ‘not be involved’ to ‘not minister’ that we aren’t really free to minister.

It is far too easy growing up in church and community life to think who we are revolves around ministering. What if it doesn’t? What if who you are revolves around a much deeper relationship based on God’s simple masterpiece of you?

Fasting gets us in touch with this. Fasting, be it from food or tv or makeup or jewelry or chocolate or caffeine or ministry or hobbies (all of which I have fasted as led), brings us back to us and God.

It’s a scary place. And a profoundly powerful place.

It’s why though I’m sick and sick of it, I understand that in my weakness there are powerful things afoot. I trust the bigger picture to a much bigger plan and my life is simply one small piece.

Somehow sickness and sabbaticals and Sabbaths and fasting sets all this back in proper order.

It is simply the place from which all life springs.

God’s Cologne

P1130613 web compressedThere is a man who lives next door to me with his wife and daughter. Being at the end of the hall our doors are less than three-feet away from each other. And many are the day when leaving my building that I follow the scent of his cologne down the hall and into the elevator.

I cannot tell you how amazing this is. To find myself drinking in aroma meant to inhabit my senses is a giddy start to any day to say the least. I simply love men’s cologne and I’ve thought a number of times to thank his wife or daughter for that magnificent purchase.

A few weeks back I was thinking about the smell of God. Wondering what he would smell like. What aroma clings to God? It was a thought I’ve never thought before. A new one for me. Yet I found it inspiring to think about and to wonder over.

This Christmas season, the dark winter days, the peace of my home has inhabited my senses in a surprisingly fresh way this year. I’m settled like never before, am finding creativity oozing out of my being and generally have been feeling a heady giddiness with life that has me wondering and in awe.

Today I’ve been writing. I’m working on a book and a course about walking in spiritual authority and of bearing the mark and representation of God. My portions of work today have been about the character of God, of integrity and honor and of God’s passion and heart for us and the way in which this has been expressed through the ages in a masterful plan of rescue and redemption.

I’ve been so overcome as I write that I have paused over and over just to worship and have had to simply sit, allowing my spirit to soar in awe and delight. Entering onto my knees for there is no better response, I’m simply driven to adoration.

And I think I have my answer. This is the cologne of God.

His presence. His grandeur. His might.

The atmosphere in my home and in my spirit has for some weeks now been heavily laden with the presence of God, such that I simply sit in Him stunned and slightly giddy. Not unlike the walk down the hall in the wake of my neighbors cologne.

I must say, God smells pretty good.

Capturing God’s Heart – Life – Volume 18

Today is a new day. It is a day of expectation and a holy hush about all that will take place.

There is excitement in heaven over this day and every day. For every single day is a gift.

“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” Genesis 1:31

Life is something to be celebrated, welcomed and fully enjoyed. Like a savory meal or a cool drink on a hot day, like a beautiful flower in the midst of a dull landscape and like the rainbow in the sky after a storm, every single day is to be relished and enjoyed to the full.

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A Revolution

faithfulness to GodWoven through many of the messages that I heard in Uganda, is an undertone, and often an explicit statement that says, “Come to God and He will make you Great”

or, “Come to Jesus and you will be Big”

Or the most blasphemous statement heard via the television on my last trip, “The wealthier you are the holier you are”

Wow, eh…

So much wrong with that one. But even the other ones, ‘come to God so as to be great’, are gross misrepresentations of the scriptures.

Nowhere have I ever read in my Bible that God promises to make us Great.
But all of this false doctrine I didn’t know about on my first trip to Uganda. I wasn’t aware of the undertone of lusted-after-grandeur and of God being the big fix-it-all-button. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit led me to preach this sermon, to share this message:

It is good to gather today. And we do so in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We come together not as people who have nothing in common. For regardless of the circumstances of our lives being different, the experiences of our lives, the trouble that comes our way as human beings, is much the same all over the globe.

And the manner by which God meets us in our difficulty is the also the same. No matter where we live, no matter what color our skin and no matter our socioeconomic status or the culture in which we find ourselves, at our emotional core we all need God the same way.

You may think that Canada has no trouble. But there is trouble all over the globe. Let me share with you a bit of my own story.

You see, I have known what it is to go without food, for at one time I was starving myself so my children could eat. I’ve known what it is to not be able to clothe my kids, I’ve known what it is to rely on the donations of others in order to clothe my children.

I’ve known what it is to be verbally and psychologically abused. I’ve known a bad marriage and of being mocked by the one who swore to love me.

And I’ve known what it is to be sexually abused; for twice as a child I was raped.

And in and through all of that I have come to know a God who is greater than these things, and that walks with us through all of life’s experiences, the good the bad and the ugly.

God does not promise to fix our lives, but he does promise to walk alongside as we go through life. His presence makes all the difference, and God in the gift of Jesus Christ, has gone to extremes to ensure that we can walk together.

We think that God owes us something. But fact of the matter is, God owes us nothing, and we on the other hand, owe him our very lives.

The summer that I was working through the rape memories, the Spirit asked me this,

“In light of everything that has gone bad. In spite of everything that is horribly wrong, will you love me, will you trust me, and will you know me to be good?”

I had accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of six, but that acceptance was in the light of a rosy all-is-right with the world perspective. Christ is easy to accept in the fairytale of our lives.

This time, some 35 years later, Christ was asking me again. “Will you love me, will you trust me, and will you know me to be good?”

It was a hard place. Could I? Would I?

How much do we love God? Do we love him, do we trust him, and will we know him to be good?

My faith up till that point in time had been fairly shallow (now in retrospect). You see a gospel that says come to God and your life will be fixed is shallow at best, blasphemous at worst.

Will our lives steadily increase as we walk with God? Yes!

Do our lives become increasingly free as we give our lives over to Christ? Yes!

But nowhere are we promised that our lives will be fixed.

And so, if God does not fix your life, if nothing changes, and in light of all that is bad, will you love him, will you trust him, and will you know him to be good?

For you see, our decision to give over our lives to the living God, comes before anything gets better. It comes before we see resolutions and before there is relief. We must ask ourselves, how much do we love God today?

And what things have you been holding out as a prerequisite to your full involvement with him? What deals have you been trying to make? What assurances are you demanding?

God owes us nothing, we on the other hand, owe God our very lives.

Speaking this message that first trip, I never knew how revolutionary a message it would be in light of the Uganda culture, never realized that it is a message in direct opposition to the ‘Come to God and he will make you great or big or wealthy or healthy or… ”

But I am pretty sure it is not revolutionary just in Uganda, but in Canada as well.

These revolutionary messages of the heart of God are exactly the work we as Capturing Courage International are called to preach. It is the core of the Biblical Training that we are taking, the core of the Leadership Development and Emotional and Spiritual Freedoms.

What do we believe about God?

What does God say about God?

And what might we bring to God today?

Capturing God’s Heart – Faith – Volume 15

When we start off in the Christian life we are concerned with the laws of God, of pleasing him and about what is right and wrong.

As we grow we find that things of God and of our lives are not so obvious as we once believed.

There are a lot of unknowns as we live our lives. And as we mature we find that God speaks to all of us in different ways about various things.

While there are many specifics about a lot of things, there is also a lot of room for a relationship with God that is unique to us.

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Capturing God’s Heart – Relationship – Volume 14

Living the Christian life is not about formula. It is not about rules or procedures, it is not about right or wrong even. Christianity is about a living relationship with God, with Jesus Christ, and with our Holy Spirit.

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

“But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:18

Living the Christian life is about entering into a relationship with God, growing in that relationship, and finding out what our new friend (God) likes or doesn’t like.

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Capturing God’s Heart – Difficulty – Volume 10

Today I am sharing about Difficulty, and some of what I have come to find about the Lord through the hard things of our lives.

We all have trouble in this life. Each of us experience things that are simply difficult. In fact the Bible speaks quite a bit to difficulty. Jesus said this:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I used to think that God was going to fix all my difficulty. That the overcoming that Christ spoke of was to do with the stuff of this world. That God was simply magic applied to my life. That I could pray and all of a sudden the hard stuff would go away.

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A Great Journey

Coaching in CommunityTransitions are powerful yet never easy. Life is full of them, these shifts and changes of landscape and journeying, movement that we must all make in and of ourselves.

Perhaps you are in your own transition, becoming a new creature yourself, moving in new ways, stretching to reach for things you had not reached for before, and others around you are not so impressed, and certainly don’t know what to do with themselves in context of you.

My own journey has been full of people not able to carry on alongside me. And while it has been a disillusioning process with much grief, I’ve learned a few things along the way and perhaps I can validate and encourage what I suspect is your journey as well.

The image that comes to mind is that of a train. You start off from the station, slowly at first, taking an easy pace for some time in fact. Those on board are enjoying the breeze, there is excitement in the air, you are all in this together and things look great.

But then the train catches into the next gear, the wind whips by a little faster, and a few of those on board are not okay any longer. It’s going too fast, the scenery flashes by a little too quickly, there are a few unknowns coming to light, not everything is as sure as it could be, and before you know it a few dear friends have fallen off at the side.

At some point in time the pace picks up even more. And if there wasn’t difficulty enough, you are now traveling through mountains. With cliffs dropping off into hundred-foot drops, with heart-numbing tunnels at which (for some time) there is no light at the end, and with corners that test the stoutest of souls, another number of those who’ve been alongside simply yet hastily get off at the next available stop.

Not only does the train not stop, it actually picks up speed. Now you are really moving. This train is really traveling. Gathering momentum you are out of the mountains and on the long stretches of prairie. While the risks are not so profound, the speed has increased and the destination is not so much somewhere to arrive at, but a process by which to live. And still more drop off at the sides.

At this point in the story, repeat and then repeat some more, repeat and then repeat some more.

The first few times I encountered this kind of loss and cost in the journey, the grief wracked my being for weeks. There was disillusionment and dismay. I would wonder about myself, looking for who to blame and where to launch my disappointments.

But of course, while grieving is always useful, looking to hurt someone as keenly as that hurt is piercing my own heart is never a good solution (and that is an understatement).

Learning to grieve and to let go, allowing compassion to coat all of our relationships simply makes it plain that not everyone can move alongside where we are called to go, and that is simply OK.

We don’t need to fix it, don’t need to manage or manipulate a different outcome.

Grieving creates nimbleness in our hearts. For what this train story does not show, is that at every phase along the way, new people are coming on board.

At every stage there are those who come on board for a specific time and place and gift set added to the journey. They are very rarely those we began the journey with, they are new contacts, new hearts, new souls alongside which we travel.

So while the journey is never easy, it is incredibly rich.

I’ve also come to see that the input of each individual along the way is not diminished by their not being able to stay on the train. Rather the ability to recognize and commend and thank each and every person along the way, opens our own hearts and minds to receive others who have yet to come on board.

Once we release the ones who have dropped off, we can accept and fully embrace those who are set to journey a future piece of our landscape.

I don’t know your journey or your own transitional times, but I do know that the people change along the way. Take this to heart, cry and grieve the loss and the cost, as many times as you need.

But the real point: keep your heart open and your life nimble to welcome and embrace those who will show up at that next part of your journey. They will bring something that the others could not bring, something that you will need for that next step.

Incredible bounty

Without Guile

P1270401 compressedThere have been many precious moments as I’ve been in Uganda.

With only two days until I leave for home they are beginning to replay through my mind. And a few are standing out as the very best moments.

Being my second trip to some of the same areas I’ve been re-meeting many. And while the women whom I didn’t meet on the first trip warmly greet me, those women I met before literally throw themselves into my arms.

Forget the handshake, forget any social protocol of greeting, enthusiastic arms-around-my-waist, head on my chest, hugs have been the standard of many.

And I’ll never forget the woman whom I danced with one day, and the next saw me at a distance and ran full on and into my arms in welcome.

I cannot quite describe the feelings produced in me at such unrestrained shows of affection, other than profound humility and a wondering at the impact I am bringing.

I really only get it in part.

The men too are not shy to hug and to welcome, and as they jostle for pictures and conversation we simply enjoy each others company.

And I’ll never forget the frail elderly man whose eyes begged a dance, and so hand in hand he and I dance a jig, a slow jig to be sure, but a jig nonetheless. And with beauty and joy pouring out of his eyes, loving adoration pouring over me I simply blessed him back with the honor of a dance.

It is the least I could do, and the most I could do.

Complete satisfaction.

At one school I visited, with the choir singing for me, a few of the boys one by one made their way to the front to express their delight with the movements of traditional Ugandan dance.

I so wish I had caught it on film. The strength and risk of men shining through these small ones as they took courage to strut-their-stuff as a gift of welcome for the visitor.

Quite simply brought me to tears, if I could have stopped right there and wept I would have.

The songs composed and made just for “our dear Cyndy” caught my heart just as strongly. And I wonder at how profoundly easy it is to bless others…

Simply get on a plane and visit some people.

But I know it is more of that. I trust the real impact is that I am bringing a touch of God with me. And more than me I trust it is God in me to which others are responding.

A few of the smallest children responded in unreserved and uncharacteristic abandon.

Most of the kids shyly yet confidently (they’ve been taught well how to greet a visitor) came forward extending their hands for a shake, greeting me with a ‘Welcome’. Others hung back, eyes wide and wondering, not quite sure about this visitor and certainly not interested in risking to touch.

And then there were a few set apart, whose actions caught my breath in my chest.

One little boy seeing I was near as I sat on a neighboring bench, all of a sudden came as a bee-line to my side and pressed in against my leg.

He couldn’t get close enough.

I wrapped my free arm around him (the other had a baby) and there he stayed for a good while, some twenty minutes easily. Leaning in, drawing something to himself, blessing me with his unreserved and abandoned company. My heart caught with the wonder of it.

And just the other day the same.

While visiting a community, listening to the song of a gentleman as he played for us, out of the corner of my eye I saw a Mom with her little girl in her arms. This little one was struggling to get down and I wondered what it was about.

I soon found out, for once she succeeded in being placed on the ground, she immediately came to me and in one fluid motion as if we had known each other since her birth and visited every day, she was on my lap.

And there she settled in. Leaning back her head on my chest, snuggling in without a care in the world.

I held her for some time, as we enjoyed the music together.

While I am blown away by the love and hugs and dances with the men and the women, these validations of the children are what catch me off guard.

Without masks and without guile they are the truest gauge in all the world. Children see what we as adults can no longer see. Their perceptions are the truest, their candor the most free.

“For such is the kingdom of heaven”

Something we can all hope to be one day.