Chapter 27: Holy Spirit

Chapter 27:  Holy Spirit

In the Amplified Bible we find Jesus telling his disciples,

“But the Comforter (Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26  AMP

In a regular dictionary we find the following definitions of these adjectives describing our Holy Spirit:

1. Comforter: A person or thing that provides consolation

2. Counsellor: A person trained to give guidance on personal, social, or psychological problems

3. Helper: a person who contributes to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose

4. Intercessor: (mediator) a negotiator who acts as a link between parties

5. Advocate: A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy

6. Strengthener: a device designed to provide additional strength

7. Standby: Readiness for duty or immediate deployment

Even in this simple way we can see the immediate kinds of help that the Spirit of God brings to us.

There is much to say about the Holy Spirit.  Too much for this simple study, so let’s look at just a few of the marks of the Holy Spirit, how we can recognize the Spirit of God in our lives.

The very first place where we find the Spirit is in our salvation.  When we come to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we are told that the Spirit seals us in him.

1.  The Spirit Marks us and Seals us in Christ

“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

This is important because when we first come to the Lord we are immature in our faith. 

Sometimes it takes years to mature and to grow to our full stature in Christ, and God understands this.

God knows that growth is a process and that while we go from immaturity to maturity, even in that process, we are marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit.

“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 ESV  (footnote below)

Because of the intercession of the Spirit, one of the first ways that we experience the Holy Spirit is in the inner sanctum of our hearts.  Paul in Romans gives this blessing:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV

And it is in the inner experience of joy and peace and hope that we are assured of God’s presence in our lives.  We all know that we cannot conjure these things on our own. 

Rather, joy and peace and hope are gifts from God and come to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And it is out of this joy and peace and hope that we are healed.

2.  The Spirit Heals us

Isaiah records it this way,

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3  ESV  (Read all of Isaiah 61)

Consider how the Psalmist describes it:

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”  Psalm 30:11-12 ESV

God in his power and majesty and by the work of the Holy Spirit enters into the depths of our hearts with comfort and joy and dancing.

In the power of God we are given back celebration and worship.  We are enabled to praise him and to experience in that praise a deep gladness of heart that transcends all that we know and understand.

I am convinced that when Peter says, “always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter 3:15b ESV, that we are to answer the basic question, “how has God made you glad?”

We might know all scripture, understand the ancient texts and languages, but if we do not know how the Lord has brought gladness to our hearts, if we do not know where our mourning has been turned to dancing, then perhaps we are missing an elemental component of walking with God.

If nothing else, know this day the impact and the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart.

It is from this touch of the Spirit to the depths of our hearts that we then walk in wisdom and understanding.

3.  The Spirit Teaches us and Gives us Wisdom

“And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV

*Read 1 Corinthians 6:6-16

Life is complicated and fraught with confusion.  It is therefore good to know that we do not have to do life on our own understanding.  Rather we have access to the wisdom of 

God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah in his foretelling of the coming of Christ said this,

“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2-3a ESV (Read 11:1-10)

We come to reverence in the Spirit of God.  Our understanding is opened to the might and majesty of God and we are never the same.  We learn obedience and how to walk in sync with the living God.

How God moves we move.  What God is concerned about concerns us.  The manner of compassion and grace of our Lord becomes our own.  There is something different about those who walk in the Spirit.  We find in Galatians,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Our very manner of being takes on the mark of our Lord.  In this we give tangible evidence to the Holy Spirit in our lives.  This depth of the Spirit in our lives is important to God.  Consider the words found in 1 Corinthians,

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

We may have good deeds, prophecy, knowledge, and even faith, but if we are not walking in the manner of the Holy Spirit, the place where our hearts reveal the fruit of the Spirit as Galatians teaches us, then we are missing the greatest point of walking with God – change within our inner person.

Christ didn’t die on the cross to get us to heaven.  He died and rose again so that our entire life might be redeemed and restored to the original vision of God, and this begins with the infilling of the Holy Spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit one to another.

I’ll leave off with Peter’s blessing:

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” 1 Peter 1:2 ESV

Application

Consider this diagram (on the next page) about the covering of Jesus Christ. Note that as we mature in Christ there are subtleties to being ‘right with God’.  Our discernment and our ability to hear and to obey the spirit must therefore become greater. 

While there are many actions and deeds that are outside of the covering of Christ, as leaders and pastors in the Kingdom of God we must begin looking at our own hearts and seeing deeper than just actions.  We must take sins of the heart seriously and this is where the Holy Spirit is particularly equipped to teach us and to equip us. 

Consider the small differences of our hearts before God when we are under the covering of Christ, to those same things of the heart without the right motive or without obedience to the Lord — Where is your life?  Are you fully under the covering of Christ or is there a habit of thought and action that would be outside of Jesus’ covering? 

Use the listening prayer process to confess and repent of what the Holy Spirit shows you. 

Summary – Holy Spirit 

The Spirit seals us in Christ.  Ephesians 1:13-14

The Spirit brings peace, joy, and hope.  Romans 15:13

The Spirit heals us.  Psalm 30:11-12

The Spirit teaches us.  1 Corinthians 2:13

We live out the fruit of the spirit (as evidence of the spirit in us).  Galatians 5:22-23

 

Footnote: God is very okay with our growth and the time it takes to mature. We must not condemn others for their growth process. Rather, we rest in the work that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are doing in our lives and we trust that this same work is happening in the lives of others. It is okay to serve God while we are still maturing, for he is growing us. 

Chapter 4. Repentance

Chapter 4.  Repentance

per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #28

There is a time for celebration and rejoicing and for worshiping God, and then there is a time for mourning and grieving and laying bare our deeds before the Lord.

Consider what James says,

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”  James 4:8-10 ESV

Admitting that we have done wrong is one of the most freeing experiences.  Repentance is deep intimacy with The Father.

Yet it is not a normal human response to admit wrongdoing.  In fact, our natural response is to cover up and to hide our sins.

But think about it, when we cover up our sins we still have them with us.

They bury into our hearts and minds with the memory and emotions.  We are never free of our sin when we harbour it in our selves.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13 ESV 

At the very beginning when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden we see this propensity to cover over our sin.  We read,

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  Genesis 3:8  NIV

We have been hiding ourselves ever since.

“But the LORD God called to the man,  “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”  And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Genesis 3:9-12 NIV 

Do you notice the excuses, the blaming, the rationalizations?  Don’t we all continue in sins of avoidance and fear, of shame and covering over?

The man blamed the woman (9), the woman blamed the serpent, and ever since we have been making excuses and blaming others.  We have been unable to admit our wrong and have carried death as a result.

God saw this and understood the depths of the problem.  Shame was coiled around us, guilt was heaped on our heads, and we were emotionally and psychologically unable to admit wrong.  We are fearful of the exposure that confession requires.

Then in verse 21 we read,  “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”  Genesis 3:21 NIV

In one amazing act of grace, God, who made all things unto life, now kills an animal/s in order to provide a covering and to remove shame.

In a powerful prophetic act looking ahead to the cross, God takes on our sin and death so that we might be all that God originally intended.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV 

God was committed to our covering and our keeping right from the start, and has since played that out through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.  Our sin is buried with Christ when we accept his salvation and turn from our wrongs.

In fact, the blood covering of Christ is the only thing that truly covers our sin and washes it away.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed.”  1 Peter 2:24 ESV 

Imagine in your mind’s eye the cross of Jesus Christ.  And imagine the blood that fell from Christ onto the ground at the foot of that cross.

Imagine that you bring your sins and lay them down at the foot of the cross, and imagine that Christ’s blood, as it soaks into the ground, takes your sin with it.

Burying the sin, washing the sin away, covering over the sin.

This is the work of Christ, not us.  We cannot bury our own sin.  We cannot cover over our own sin.  Only Christ can do this.

When we try to cover over our own sin we simply become hardened of heart.  In trying to keep our sin secret we build a wall between ourself and God.

READ all of Psalm 32

If you think that you are above sin, consider this verse,  “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:32 NIV

It is imperative that all of us, no matter our station or influence, allow repentance.  The leaders amongst us should be the first on our knees before the Lord, the first to repent and to enter into a contrition of spirit before the Lord.

Let us never forget that,  “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”  Psalms 34:18 ESV

And that,  “As the scripture says,  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ”  James 4:6b NLT

We are given a conscience, a knowledge built into us, of right and wrong.  And when we violate this sense of right and wrong we have only two choices.

One, we labor under the sin, trying to get free, cover it over ourselves, hide it, but then like anything that goes bad we are simply left with a poison in our hearts and minds.  We are not free, we are caught.  And there is a deep divide between ourselves and God.

There is a better way.  Our second option is to confess our sins to God and each other.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,  “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2: 12-13 ESV 

Bringing our sin out into the open allows the light of Christ to come upon it and us.  And in the shift deep within our being as we bring our wrongs into the light, we find that we are given the gift of sorrow and grief and mourning.  We come near to God in humility and repentance.

We grieve over our sin.  We acknowledge it.  We say, “I did this.”  And without excuse or blame we simply stand before the living God.

“As for me, I said,  “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”  Psalm 41:4 ESV

Instead of trying to cover over our own wrongs, we find that God then covers over our wrong. Jesus (who already took it over 2000 years ago) takes our sin and washes us clean with his blood.  Our wrongdoing is buried along with Christ’s sacrificial death and we are free.

“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said,  “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.  Selah” 

Psalm 32:5 ESV

And in our acknowledgement we experience and really come to know that God is for us.

The Psalmist put it this way,  “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.”  Psalms 3:3 NIV

God surrounds us and lifts us up.  We come broken on our knees before him, and we find ourselves standing beside the Lord.

Repentance is the key to this sort of freedom.  Repentance enables us to receive God’s grace.

Nothing else can do this.  Without repentance we are simply stuck in our sin.

But with repentance we find life.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;  he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” 

Isaiah 61:1 ESV

With repentance we are rich in heart and mind.  We find ourselves, as this verse declares the Living Christ, with our broken hearts bound up, our captivity to sin is turned into liberty of life, and the prisons and bondage of guilt are opened and freed off of us.

As we accept and agree with the sacrifice of Christ the forgiveness established on the cross over 2000 years ago becomes our own.  Repentance is our hearts position to receive all the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Without repentance we are merely in contempt of the cross, and against the work of the Lord. But with repentance we find the habitation of God in our very lives and we receive his gladness throughout our whole life.

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:  “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  Isaiah 57:15 ESV 

Prayer 

”God I come before you today in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, bringing my sins (they are…. ) to the foot of your cross.  These sins, my guilt, and my shame have weighed us down and crippled our hearts and minds. 

We are tired of our sin and wrongdoing, and today we say,  “No more” in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Today I declare enough is enough and I release my sins unto you God.   We enter into a contrite heart and we ask for a deep repentance before you. 

Leaving our sins at the foot of your cross, declaring them covered by the blood of the Lamb, they are washed away and cancelled by the power of our Living Lord Jesus Christ. I take unto myself your salvation to every part of my being.  We receive your grace and give praise, declaring all glory to you God.  Amen” 

Application

We cannot know our sin without the revelation of the Holy Spirit.  While repentance may feel bad to us we come to find that it is a gift from God.  In this, our response turns from one of avoiding our sin and our need of repentance to coming before God eager to know how we might be free. 

Repentance, after all, is the path of healing and freedom for all of us.  In Psalm we read,  “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17 NLT

We can therefore take courage to come before the Lord with a broken and repentant heart.  As leaders we want to lead the way in this.  The people we serve need to know that it is always okay to bring our sins out into the open before the Lord.  As leaders we set the tone. 

Part of making repentance normal amongst us, is creating a culture of safety in our churches.  We must normalize our growth processes and in this we must normalize the fact that we are sinners before a holy God, that God has covered over our sin, and that we are invited to enter into his covering.  There is no shame in this — only cause for celebration. 

This means, that we remove shame and condemnation as part of our ministry to each other.  Shame and condemnation are of the enemy, not the Lord.  Shame and condemnation keep us from bringing our sin to God — and this keeps us bound.  God’s heart is for the exact opposite. 

God’s heart wants us free to bring our sin, failures and regrets to him.  This is, in many ways, the ministry of the body of Christ on this earth.  We are to participate and lead people to the grace of God.  We do this as we create emotional safety for each other as we refuse to condemn, blame, or bring shame. 

1.  Begin to listen to your language and the words, and the unspoken messages beneath your words, and see how much shame and condemnation is in your church. 

2.  Repent and allow your heart to be broken over the amount of shame and condemnation that is in your fellowship of believers — it should not be there. 

3.  Ask the Lord to show you a new way.  Invite the grace of the Lord to penetrate your own heart and mind first, and then to penetrate the culture of your church body.  We must be changed by the grace of God or all we have is religion, and religion kills; we want the life of Christ. 

As a church leadership team and as a body of believers it is important to come together and into agreement with the grace of the Lord, and to break our agreements with the enemy’s shame and condemnations. 

We do this as we gather together and as we talk about shame and how damaging it is to our hearts in the Lord.  When we are bound up in shame we cannot see the love of God.  And where we are bound up in condemnations we are unable to know the love of God. 

We desperately need freedom from shame and condemnation and into the love of Jesus Christ.  We must cry out to God for this freedom for only the work of Jesus is powerful enough to reach into our deepest hearts with a touch that heals us and restores us and makes us glad. 

I suggest that as a family, as a leadership team, and even as a congregation that you confess to your agreements to shame and condemnation (remember, these are agreements with satan), and make a new agreement with the Lord for mutual blessing and honouring of each other. 

We are called to be healing agents of Jesus in this world.  To do this we must renounce shame and condemnation and we must take on the grace of our Lord.  In this we become safe people and safe churches so that repentance comes naturally and easily to us, and in this repentance we are transformed into the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Prayer

“We come before you God in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We confess that we have been under the shame and condemnation of the enemy.  We have even been participants of shame and condemnation, even bringing these things to those around us.  We are sorry. 

Today, in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ we renounce shame and condemnation.  We refuse to use them any longer to control or manipulate each other.  We realize that shame and condemnation are of the enemy and not God. 

Please alert our spirits to these things of the enemy.  Help our ears and our understanding to hear when we are speaking shame or condemnation, help our hearts to know when we are carrying shame or condemnation deep inside ourselves.  Heal us, help us, restore us. 

Today we make new agreements unto the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We recognize that the grace of Jesus is powerful to make us new creatures and to free us unto all holiness and godliness.  We receive your grace today God.  Thank you for making us new.” 

Summary – repentance

Repentance is key to our healing and freedom.   Joel 2:12-13, Psalm 57:17

Hiding our sin never bears good fruit.   Psalm 32:3-5, Proverbs 28:13

God is understanding.   Isaiah 1:18, Exodus 34:6

We can come to Him with everything.   James 4:6, Psalm 34:18

 

Footnote: 

9. Adam was really blaming God for giving him the woman

Why Do We Confess?

A Pastor who is using our CCIM College Material has relayed a question about James 5:16a which says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” NLT.

What does it mean to confess? “Do we confess our sins before God or our fellow people whom we have offended?”

Below is my answer to his questions:

  • NOTE: This refers to James 5:16a as noted in CCIM College Course, Module One, Month One, Chapter 6 – FREEDOM, page 31

Capturing God’s Heart – HEALING – Volume 50

God wants to heal our lives. He wants to heal our hearts and minds and bodies.

We know this in the church and for many of us we have made it our habits of church and christianity to declare and pray healing over others.

And yet, we have often made healing a product of church. We have taken what is meant to be a free gift of God to all people and have made it a proprietary (something owned by just a few people) product of the church.

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Capturing God’s Heart – The Time of Christ – Volume 47

When Jesus Christ came to earth there was a well-established religious system. There were the scribes and pharisees, these were the keepers of the law, the ones schooled in the specifics of the keeping of the law.

These were the leaders of the Jewish religion and the ones that enforced and taught God’s ways. They were the ones living their best to be good and right and perfect and by this managed to appear better than anyone else.

At that same time, when Jesus came to earth, there were the common people like you and I. These common people were living their lives trying to do as God might have them do, trying to be as God might have them be. They were working hard but perhaps, in contrast to the religious leaders, felt inadequate and not quite measuring up.

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We Run Toward the World

I am in a lot of communities. As a visiting preacher and revivalist I visit many, many churches, many, many communities. At each of these places, with each of these churches, I find folks intent on sharing the love of God and bringing to the area where they live light and hope to a dying world.

This last weekend I was in an area of India where there is rampant unemployment due to the closure of a local mine. In the years since the husbands and brothers have been pimping out their wives and sisters in prostitution. They head into the city for a days work, returning home each evening. For years.

I was told this information a few days before I was to be the main speaker at a one day missions conference with pastors and their wives. Upon receiving this information I queried, ‘What do I bring in this context?!’

As I prayed and prepared I became even more convinced that I preach the same thing I preach everywhere else, Jesus.

And I preach the same message I’ve been giving out elsewhere, Repentance.

I learned last year that there are three keys to Revival, 1. A hunger for more of God, 2. Repentance, 3. That religious strongholds are broken.

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Poverty Strongholds #2 – The Authority By Which I Speak

In Part One of this topic I barely scratched the surface of the intricacies and poverty mindsets as many of us observe them, and/or live them out. There is so much that can be delineated within each of the ten strongholds as I am describing them. But let me continue on in this series with a bit about myself. I speak into this issue of poverty strongholds not from a place of observation or as an outsider, but I speak from a place of, “I’ve lived through these very same things”. I’ve intimately known the mindsets of poverty and the bad fruit that was piling up as a result.

For instance, there was a time in my history where I was continuing in bad relationship with ‘hope’ that refused to look at reality. There was a time when there was very little provision or food and I was starving myself so that my children could eat. There was a time when the money I did have seemed to be consistently and always disappearing as though my ‘bucket’ had a giant hole. And for years I carried accumulated pain upon pain (heart pain) that nearly stole my life in chronic autoimmune diseases. I’ve know what it is to be in despair and to be buried in pain that overwhelmed me in both good thinking and in energy required to rise above the current circumstances.

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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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Addressing the Roots of Difficulty and Despair

At CCIM we are called to address the roots of difficulty and despair. Instead of trying to fix the bad fruit of our lives, our communities, and our nations, we go right to the heart of the matter by breaking down strongholds in the spirit realm, by leading in repentance and honesty before the Lord, and by teaching individuals and communities to stand in the gap for their people in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ.

CCIM at the roots

Our Nakedness is Covered by Our Lord

I’ve facilitated dozens of people through hundreds of prayer ministry sessions. Here in the company of each other and the Holy Spirit individuals turn towards the Lord.

Everyone comes with unresolved pain, unrecognized conclusions about life, fears they can’t quite name, anxiety, and more and as I direct and lead them in bringing these kinds of things to the feet of Christ and his cross and into the throne room of God there is never a harsh word spoken. Never.

Time after time, for years now, I suggest, “Ask Jesus what you do with this” And as they take their query to the Lord, always unsure and risking to bare this part of their life to God, the Holy Spirit always replies and directs in warmth, affirmation, compassion. Always.

And burdens are lifted time after time after time after time after time.

The hard work is the turning to God. We all have shame and embarrassments, regrets and disappointments, lies and condemnations playing over in our lives in one degree or another. These are the things that keep us from God.

But not because God is holding these things against us, no, rather it is us who hold these things between us and God.

We have our failures, we have our sin, we have our shame, whatever it may be, and we keep it close to our hearts trying, trying, trying to overcome and solve and fix this thing that just won’t go away.

We orient to our broken lives and turn away from God in our shame. But the thing only gets worse when we do this with cycles of despondency and failure taking hold, increasing our guilt, increasing our fear, increasing our anxiety.

It is only as we realize that we cannot fix this thing or our lives, only when we come to the end of ourselves, that we are convinced to turn toward God, to fix our eyes on Christ, and to open ourselves to his grace in our lives.

For the grace of Christ is a powerful agent of transformation. By it we are changed. Simple as that.

It’s not about our working at things harder. Christ didn’t die for this.

It’s not about our making things right. Most things cannot be made right.

It’s not about our striving, service, sacrifice. You can’t make it happen.

It’s about grace and the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hang out with him and you will become a different, more whole, healthy, balanced, wise, content, person.

You will increase in holiness, righteousness, patience, peace, love, just to name a few.

I have personally entered into these intimate conversations with the Lord via prayer ministry well over a hundred times and as I bring my own stuff to the Lord I am changed in my perspective of God simply by how he conducts these conversations.

And then, in the witness to dozens of others encountering the same God again and again and again, I stand as a witness to the gracious manner of the Lord.

God is not out to get you. God is not out to get anyone.

God will not embarrass you. God will not uncover your shame.

In the book of Genesis 9 we find the story of Moses becoming drunk and laying uncovered in his tent. We read that his son Ham saw his nakedness and proceeded to talk about it to others; Ham increased the uncovering of his father.

Then we read that Shem and Japheth took a garment and walking backwards covered over their fathers nakedness; they refused to participate in his uncovering but instead committed themselves to his dignity regardless of his drunken state.

This is exactly how God is with us. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW GOD IS WITH YOU AND I.

God is committed to your dignity regardless of your drunken (fill it in for yourself) state.

I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I’ve experienced it myself hundreds of times.

God covers over our nakedness. He does not expose, humiliate, condemn.

In this we have confidence to come before the throne of grace receiving life afresh.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Amen and amen with all praise to you Lord.

Serving Up A Feast

The following message is one I gave a couple times over during my recent ministry trip to Mozambique:

I have a friend named George. He makes his living bringing out the best in other people. Every time I get together with George over a cup of tea I receive a great big hug and an ‘I love you’.

George makes it his mission in life ensuring that everyone he comes across knows they are loved. (Everyone gets a hug!) I have learned a lot from George in the time that I’ve known him.

Forefront for him is ensuring his wife and three kids know his love. There isn’t a time I have tea with George but he isn’t sharing the latest things he has been doing for his wife and kids. In his decisions and manner of being he is committed to serving his family well.

So we might ask, how it is that George can get away with hugging women who are not his wife? I tell you, it’s this: It’s because the feast, the real banquet of love and respect, of honour and regard, is happening at home.

The rest of us are just getting in on the crumbs from the table.

I propose that if we want to change our cultures and communities for God that we begin with a feast at home. Building a culture of regard, tenderness, compassion, acceptance, value, honour, mercy, dignity, justice, love, and understanding in our homes will in fact impact our world.

It begins between a husband and his wife. Men, you have more power than you know.

If you treat your wife with regard and respect each and every day she will shine. Look her in the eyes, acknowledge what she does, thank her for her sacrifices for you and your children. Take the time to ask her about her day and really listen to her. Be tender and understanding.

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7

It has been said that a woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4) and I ask you men, how shiny is your crown? For the quality of a man can be found in the light in his wife’s eyes, the countenance of her face, and how she carries herself.

A woman treated well, who knows she is safe and secure, is accepted and valued, will do most anything for her man. Women are naturally wired to open themselves to their man. Women are naturally wired to pour themselves out to their families and beyond. Who is pouring into her?

Perhaps you might pour into her so that she might continue giving out and opening herself to you and others.

There is a verse in Ephesians, “For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.” Ephesians 5:23, and from what I can tell this means that men are given the awesome and terrifying responsibility to answer before God one day for the health and well-being of his wife and family.

It is his role to assume 100% responsibility before God. It is a grand opportunity to become like Christ and to lay down his life in service and sacrifice.

But how is a man to take on this terrifying responsibility successfully? Well, he has been given a helper. The same word used to describe the Holy Spirit. His wife.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18

She knows things and sees things that can help you as a husband and father. Women intuit how things are and they have particular wisdom that, if respected and regarded and listened to well, will enable you as a man to stand before God one day and hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” She is uniquely designed to help you be wildly successful.

A man who takes on the challenge of setting an every-day feast of regard and respect, love and compassion, acceptance and patience, understanding and value, will not only have a wife who shines but will have children who also know these same things. Your children will be secure and settled and they will learn faster and they will mature easier.

A wife who is stressed, afraid, unsure, has children who are stressed, afraid and unsure, and the whole family begins to suffer. A wife who is not stressed makes a soft landing place for her children and her husband will one day reap the rewards of his due care and diligence as he watches the well-lived lives of his children.

As leader of the home you set the standard, you show the way, you model Christ. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that Christ’s ministry is one of reconciling the world to himself.

Reconciling is accomplished through careful listening, by taking 100% of the responsibility for the messes around us, and through understanding. Men are called to this same ministry of reconciliation.

And not only our men, but our churches too. What if your church was to commit to holding their women in high regard? What if you as a church made sure that you uphold the safety and security and value of all your women and those round about? What kind of a difference might this make in your community and beyond?

Christ calls us to be set apart and different from the world. Well, the world disregards women. The assignments against women have been long-lasting the world over and for centuries. We the body of Christ are called to be different.

While men are creating a feast at home it must also be followed up on by the church. Are we willing as a body of Christ to support our women? Are we willing to ensure they need not remain in abusive marriages?

Are we opening up all levels of leadership within the church so that they really know they are fully welcomed and wanted? Are our churches safe for women? Will we make the honouring and dignity of our women a priority as we create church policy?

For not only does all this hold a space of value for women but it holds a space of honour and value for our men.

For men are not just beasts to be obeyed. Men are not like children who can only see their own need. Men need not be given over to rage and violence.

Rather, men are called to enlarge and strengthen the lives of everyone around them. And out of this feast that begins at home everyone else round about gets in on the crumbs and we are all changed in the process.

The feast in the Kingdom of God is for everyone and our understanding of the gospel is ultimately reflected in our ministry to women and children.

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27

The feast begins at home. The church carries it on. Everyone gets in on the crumbs. None of us remain the same.

“Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.” Isaiah 58:12