How Does God Partner with You?

How does God partner with you?

I’ve been teaching a class called Advanced in The Kingdom. We have just completed week four of six after which, with each class, I find a particular point stands out to me. This is often a summary thought that I may not have even made in class!

This week: How does God partner with YOU? Specifically, you.

It is vitally important that we come to understand the unique breath of God through ones self. There are one or two elements, actions, manners of you that God breathes through. This breath of God is what turns ordinary actions into supernatural impact. An impact that we may not realize so much as those around us; we still feel very ordinary but we find that others are thanking us for this or that, in this manner or that way. This is God through us.

Where our impact may produce an increase, the Lord’s impact brings a multiplication. We may find that we cannot keep up with the fruit of our lives. This marks the Kingdom of God among us.

So, inquire of the Lord about his breath through you. Look at the fruit of your life, where does it seem to be out of proportion to the rest of your life. Consider the patterns of your years. Step back from yourself and see what might be more evident from a distance. Think about the things that others specifically thank you for.

And once you begin to realize how God partners with you, do more of that thing. Leave off the sub-optimal efforts of lesser projects or focus. Optimize your life around the breath of God. There is deep satisfaction in this. And much life.

Be blessed this day by the breath of God through You.

Poverty Strongholds #5 – Mind Sets (faulty thinking)

Poverty Strongholds – Part Five – Mind Sets (faulty thinking)

  1. Demons
  2. Poor Stewardship – link to past article
  3. Lack of Knowledge (common sense)
  4. Mind Sets (faulty thinking)
  5. Lack of Holiness
  6. Agreements with the Enemy
  7. Bad Theology
  8. Blaming & Excuses
  9. Refusing to be a Blessing
  10. Pain Upon Pain

Today we look at Mind Sets, or faulty thinking and how the way we think may be keeping us locked into cycles of poverty.

On the Poverty Strongholds graphic I have faulty thinking noted as: 

  • layers of denial, optimistic without seeing reality
  • superstitious thinking and beliefs
  • rushing to conclusions (already addressed in Lack of Knowledge)
  • stuck on letter of the law without the spirit of the law
  • little innovation, stuck on how it’s always done
  • assuming bigger is better

In brief I will add some understanding to each one of these.

Layers of Denial: 

Layers of denial are habits of thought that keep us protected from bad news and from grief but also keep us from clarity and reasoning that can move us forward. Like the woman I mentioned in my first post under faulty thinking, she is protecting herself from the raw knowledge that she married a man that does not love her. He is refusing to care and commit to her, is using her for sex (unprotected sex even, as more children are added to compound her poverty), and meanwhile she continues in a habit of thought that continues to hold out hope.

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Poverty Strongholds – Part One

We were more than halfway through our ministry trip in Uganda. We had been alongside many, many pastors, had stayed in many homes, and had been to many districts and villages and churches.

So far, we had been experiencing a bounty of thought and action, of hospitality and sufficiency. Those we were alongside knew that God was caring for them, knew that life was good albeit hard, and out of that delighted in their care of us.

But then we ran across some thinking and perspectives that glared out at us as a poverty mindset extraordinaire all rolled into one. They claimed poverty as their biggest challenge and relayed to us stories of how the enemy was confounding everyone, literally everyone, in that surrounding area.

Now, we had heard bits and pieces of this same thinking in the months prior, but somehow it all came together in stark reality — all poverty was blamed on the devil; it was ALL satan’s fault.

Now, while we know that satan’s plan is one of destruction we could not abide by the belief that everything bad and wrong was of the enemy without any responsibility from the humans involved. If this were the case, then we would all be victims forever more, the end.

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Are We Theorists or Practitioners of Unity – The Proof is in the Pudding

We must be practitioners of unity rather than preachers of unity. This of course holds true of anything we might relay. The question must always be asked, “Am I a theorist of this or am I a practitioner of this?”

Theorists have knowledge and information and often a very strong desire toward something but they do not have an appreciable personal experience of what they teach; they have not yet personally succeeded towards the actual thing they so desire.

In the coaching world this is often the dilemma at hand. When coaches are working from theory they are incapable of taking their clients all the way through, so to speak. In contrast to this, when coaches are working from the perspective of a practitioner, one who has his or her own mastery of which they coach, they have the fine-tuned insights and wisdoms of those who have been there.

And this makes all the difference in the world. As a coach I have coached from both places. When I coached as a theorist I put all sorts of pressure on my clients to get what I vaguely alluded to. The undercurrent to my coaching was a sort of desperation for them to move forward so that I might be validated. This is awful, crazy kind of pressure to put on people.

When I coach as a practitioner I bring to the table and create a space of ease and confidence that encourages and empowers others. I know they can progress this same way, I know the inner workings, I know the path from beginning to end, and it makes all the difference. As practitioner my coaching is not heavy or combative but light and refreshing.

In translation and in regards to pleas of unity coming from within our churches and from our pulpits it is imperative that we look beneath the words of those who are preaching unity and perceive whether they are speaking from theory or from practice.

Theorists of unity are marked by a burning desire to see unity and they speak of it often. Yet theorists of unity often demand unity and there is an underlying pressure for the ‘people’ to get it. What is not understood by theorists of unity is that the moment one demands unity, unity is in fact broken.

Practitioners of unity are also marked by a burning desire to see unity but they speak of it rarely for they are too busy taking on 100% responsibility for the environment of unity around them. They are learning to be nurturers of unity and in turn become master growers of unity as do their people.

It is akin to parents with their toddlers. Imagine as a parent of a young child berating them to talk, “Talk damn it.”

Does the child in this kind of environment learn to talk sooner or later? Put under emotional pressure and under the fears of the parent that, “this child may never talk” the child regresses. Talking, this natural growth process, is hindered by the over-bearing and insecure admonitions of the parent.

The same goes for demands (or pleas or well-crafted arguments) of unity. Instead of nurturing unity these demands merely inculcate underlying fear, apprehension, anxiety, and a pervasive sense of failure. Unity cannot grow in this environment.

The ones pleading for unity in this way are often those ill-equipped to dispense it.

I write this today so that we may all take heed of theorists of unity. They will make you feel very bad. And it will be your fault. Avoid this at all costs.

In contrast practitioners of unity nurture respect, give honour, and invite differences. Consider the following.

Practitioners of Unity Refuse: 

  1. To set people up against each other
  2. To keep people small
  3. To be great (and don’t make a point of talking about not being great)
  4. To have secret conversations
  5. To have things their way
  6. To discount the opinions and experiences of others
  7. To humiliate and discredit others
  8. To put others on the spot
  9. To make excuses or cast blame

Practitioners of Unity Do:

  1. Listen well and with an intent of understanding rather than responding
  2. Invite varied opinions with an eye to strength found only in diversity
  3. Welcome tension as that creative space where humans thrive and grow
  4. Receive from what others are bringing to the table
  5. Work to establish safe spaces gauged by answers to this simple question, “Do you feel safe?”
  6. Determine their effectiveness based on the fruit – the proof is in the pudding, how good does the pudding taste?
  7. Continually work to increase gladness of heart in all interactions and situations
  8. Give and act in dignity and honor to all people
  9. Take 100% responsibility for the state of unity about them

I write this because I am concerned, as I work with pastors and churches in many places, that unity is an oft misunderstood Biblical command.

Within the church we too often seem to focus on the outer signs, and in some cases bully, to ensure veneers of unity rather than doing the hard work in ourselves as leaders to become agents of unity. And the difference is found in the fruit. God never said, “Make others be in unity with you.” Simply put we would hate to be preaching unity when we haven’t yet found it ourselves.

As leaders, no matter where or what we are leading, we must lead as practitioners. If something that you are working at is not working for you, is not ‘coming round’, then you are probably leading as a theorist. Stop and take the time, as much time as it takes, to become a practitioner. The change and resulting impact will prove to be profound.

Capturing God’s Heart – Love – Volume 36

I write these God’s Hearts as the Holy Spirit leads me. I don’t have an agenda of topics chosen months in advance, I simply write in accord with the Lord’s leading. And these last few weeks I’ve been brought back to the central truth of God’s love for us and am compelled to pass that on.

It feels to me that the Lord wants to remind all of us that while we are working and serving alongside the Lord in His kingdom that we must not forget how much we are loved.

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As we turn the corner into 2014 Capturing Courage International turns five years old. Five years is not a long time but it seems like ages ago since I was ‘back there’.

In the time since we’ve come into our own and are settled in the movement of the Lord through us as we work alongside pastoral colleagues across the seas.

It is an inexplicable thing these passions of our hearts that become organizations with clear work and value to bring. Growing up an idea from vague inclination into solid, sustainable, renewable action, investment and relationships is a journey all its own.

Looking ahead I cannot tell exactly how the next five years will play out. The groundwork has been laid; 2013 was all about due diligence. We’ve been securing our behind the scenes foundations of curriculum, finance, and values; it has been a good but hard year.

Going forward we do so in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Within the light of our Lord, tucked into the love of the Father, in sync with our Holy Spirit, we are in good hands.

Spirit Living

In my work both abroad and at home it has become apparent that not all pastors or christians are in sync with the Holy Spirit.

Now, this is not a surprising statement of course, and yet it has been surprising to me to encounter believers who have one whole ‘knowing system’ seemingly silent; it is the effect of this on their lives that has caught my attention.

In the person unable to discern the spirit there seems a preponderance to rely on the brain, their own best thoughts, needing rules, falling back on theology even. A reservation of soul that borders on fear, it’s gods safety, surety and control.

Or it may show up in the one whom mimics the prayers and preaching of others without any real sense of leading or direction, just determination to do it ‘like them’. An expression of passion but without sense (and without the spirit.)

I’ve initially encountered this in gatherings where one person will continue praying long past everyone else gone silent. I’ve found it at crusades where someone will go on speaking after the spirit has lifted. Everyone knows something is off except for the one carrying on.

And I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs that points out, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable , But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (10:19)

I’ve seen it play out in the desire to manufacture what happened in one place onto another place. Where we are tempted to take the Spirit and the work of God and make it into commodity that can simply be transferred from one location to the next.

(Maybe I am missing something, but everywhere I go there are different needs and therefore different responses and offerings from the Spirit.)

I’ve seen this lack of spirit-knowing in the inability to navigate nuance in kingdom life. Rules would be much more comfortable thank-you very much. “Just tell me what is right and what is wrong. Then I can rest.”

But spirit life is a relationship. Not a set of rules. Not a list of right and wrong. It is why John wrote,

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true–it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” 1 John 2:27

Capturing God’s Heart – Rules for Living – Volume 31

It is easy to want rules for living. Something that tells us “do this” and “don’t do that” removes us from the need to walk in true relationship with God. If we can just figure out what he wants then we simply have to follow a to-do list.

But the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of The Kingdom is much more than what we are doing or not doing. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about relationship, about nuance, about principles for living (not rules), and about our manner of being woven throughout everything.

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The Power of Waiting

Cyndy in rural Uganda - November 2011I am heading to Mozambique in less than a week. The invitation has been since the early months of 2012. They’ve been waiting quite some time.

I’m finding though that our characters are proven in the wait. That what we think we are ready for right now may very well need some more time before coming to pass.

From the time that God first spoke out the possibility of Capturing Courage International until it was launched there was nine long years of preparation and prayer and waiting.

I don’t rush to make things happen so much anymore. I’ve learned that God is not in a rush, and that everything has its own best time.

In the waiting we grow in commitment, patience, and bigger picture understanding. Nothing else produces these things quite like waiting.

While we want everything yesterday God says, ‘Walk with me awhile, we will get to it.’

This last year has been another year of waiting. It’s been over a year since I’ve done an international ministry trip and how difficult it has been to stay home.

But in the waiting of this last year we have learned quite a few things at CCI. We’ve realized the core of our work. We are settled in the few solid things rather than trying a myriad.

Waiting did this. Waiting set up the framework for wisdom, for clarity, and with perspective that is deeper than our own best ideas and thoughts.

Waiting grows our capacity and I am realizing that until God can trust us with waiting he can’t really trust us with action.

So however you are waiting today, engage the wait, learn from it, allow it to expand your soul and your mind, take on the difficulty of waiting, rest in it.

God is in the waiting as much as in our actions. Find him there.

Sweet Relief

We don’t always know what to do with our sin. How do we come transparent to the cross? When indiscretions pile up what do we do with them? In what way might we be loosed off our burdens?

The answers to these questions, the manner by which we find freedom in Christ, is much of the work that we do at Capturing Courage. While we don’t talk about it much, our core is always about authentic relationship with God.

I’ll never forget the pastor in Africa whose heart cried out for repentance. I had met with him the night before and had shared that the Holy Spirit had been reminding me of the importance of repentance and that I intended to bring this to his congregation the next day.

The day had arrived. What I hadn’t expected was that his congregation was all children. So I changed my plans a touch and first shared the story of Moses, speaking to the children how they would one day be leaders in their country and that God’s call comes to the very young also. Our afternoon was then spent in praying over each other, imparting the Lord’s blessings on all that were there.

The close of the day was near and to my side this man came with his notes in hand, and pointing to where he had written ‘repentance’ he implored me, “When are we going to do this?” His deep hunger for repentance and a way out of the guilt and sin and burdens he was carrying touched me deeply.

I’ll never forget that moment. For in his urgency and plea is the cry of all of us. We all need a way through our own deserts. We all require relief from the sacks of coal we have been walking under.

It is not a nice part of the job, bringing people to a knowledge of sin. There is always a knife-thrust in the gut when we recognize the depths of our own stuff, but oh what sweet relief as we heave off our loads at the foot of the cross.

The moments from guilt to freedom takes all of about 30 seconds. It is the honesty and authenticity that takes so long to come to.

Bottom line, invest in honesty before God today. Bring your stuff. Leave off your loads.

Confess (God I did this…)

Repent (I am so sorry…)

Renounce (In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I say ‘No More!’)

Break (With the strong arm of my Lord Jesus Christ I reach back into my past and I uproot this sin from where it first began to grow. No more today!)

Cancel (In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ I cancel all authority, curses and assignments against me because of this sin. No more today!)

Claim (And by the power of my living Lord Jesus Christ I receive from the good hands of God ________. Thank-you)

Seal (In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ I seal this work today in the love of the Father, the blood of the Son, and the breathe of the Holy Spirit. I give all honor and glory 100% to God today and declare myself covered and kept in the name and the blood of my living Lord Jesus Christ.)

Find your own sweet relief in the cross of Christ today. You won’t ever be the same.

Spiritual Authority Course Progress Report

023Good news at Capturing Courage – we have completed Workbook Four of our Walking in Spiritual Authority Course and are set to complete part two of the international version for our indigenous colleagues.

This will take a good month or more to complete so please keep us in your prayers as we embark on this next task.

So far the Capturing God’s Heart material is going out to over 4400 christian leaders, which is in turn being passed on to an estimated 150,000 people.

The Spiritual Authority course is currently in the hands of a dozen christian leaders as we test run the material. We simply commit this course to the glory of God and the equipping of his people.

“Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.” Proverbs 4:5-6

To donate to the work of Capturing Courage CLICK HERE