Poverty Strongholds Post #6 – Lack of Holiness

Poverty Strongholds – Post Six – Lack of Holiness

  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

Let’s take a look at the next Poverty Stronghold – Lack of Holiness. By and large, within our christian communities, we do not seem to talk a lot about holiness and yet it is a critical piece of living within the Kingdom of God. It boils down to this: God is a holy God, and as He calls us He asks us to play the game (understand and know that the Kingdom is His and our participation requires we live by His rules) as he would have it played – this means that as God is holy we are called to be holy. Continue reading

Leadership Lesson Three – Let Your Yes be Yes and Your No be No

To become a trusted and respected leader we must be straight-up with others. This means that we don’t play games with our words, we don’t lie or cover over things, and we don’t manipulate to get what we want.

To deal dishonestly with people may seem a solution to some problems but it is short-term thinking. Dishonesty of our words and intentions will always come back in a bad way. We want to make decisions out of integrity with others and ourselves.

Integrity is a word we use to indicate the strength of something through and through. For instance, imagine a board, a piece of wood made from a tree. Imagine that you want to use this board to make a stage to stand on. Now, to stand on a stage the stage must be made from good boards.

Continue reading

Capturing God’s Heart – Money – Volume 34

There is nothing quite like money to test our integrity and our priorities. Through money we can easily see the character of a person, the quality of an organization, and the honesty of a church.

As humans we are quite naturally concerned with our everyday needs. We are concerned with where we live, the food we are eating, the things we must pay for and provide for ourselves and those we are caring for.

Continue reading

The Power of Lament

At each church I visited in Mozambique there was time given for testimony from their people. After all the singing and before the message the women would sing until someone stood to share at which time they would stop singing. As soon as the person was finished their few sentences the women would start in singing once more. This rhythm of song and sharing was repeated until each person who wanted had shared.

I visited 9 churches and they were all the same in this regard. Even the songs being sung were similar in style and cadence except for one church. In Mutarara it was different.

When I had first arrived in the area it was after sun-set. I was given a seat and all around and before me were the children sitting. They had been waiting for me and once I arrived they drew in close.

Now in a land with no lights after dark I sorta shine like a glow-worm with my one little bit of flashlight. At least I assume I do. As for the ones around me I couldn’t see them whatsoever. I could tell though that the boys in front of me were scolding and hitting and jostling each other.

At first I was horrified. Gosh, they hate each other I thought. But over the course of my few days there I realized that Mutarara is just a hard land and the people themselves were hard to match; strength for strength, stamina for stamina. And it showed up in their song during testimony time.

The women broke into song as I’d seen everywhere else, but their song was a deep mournful lament.

It was beautiful and stunning. It felt more real to me than all of the happy upbeat songs I’d heard everywhere else. It rang more true and captured the difficulty of the land and the lives who lived there.

I was reminded how much I love lament and of the beauty woven through an honesty of sorrow. It caught my heart and I so wish I had recorded their song on my phone.

All I could do was bask in the beauty of their honest hearts before the Lord, a common reckoning of difficulty and its ability to strengthen us and to in fact make us glad.

Lament is an important part of our experience in this life. After all Christ himself was a man of sorrows. Will we join him?

Some years ago I knew a woman who was dying. She had an inoperable disease and was simply facing each new day with a strength that only comes when someone is facing death.

In the midst of her last few months she confided to me, “I look back over my life and I realize all the things I have not cried over, and now I don’t have the time.”

And in these few simple words is the truth to the power and beauty of lament, of tear, of grief. How it must be undergone in this life or we’ve lost our chance.

Where might you lament today?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

The Narrow Way

When I was growing up in the church I came away with the impression that the narrow way was the compilation of our habits, our holiness, the choices we made and the things we did and didn’t do.

If we were careful enough then we had found the narrow way.

If we were holy enough we had found the narrow way.

You get the picture. The focus was on actions. Where we went and what we did. Who we hung out with and the things we exposed ourselves to.

Always with a focus on the negative. We were to be taking things out of our life. Rarely was there ever any sense of how to be in the world. We were defined by what wasn’t, not what was.

I’m now well into my forties and thank the good Lord above have come to a little more sense. And while it isn’t a bad thing to remove bad things from our lives I have come to see that the Kingdom of God is about so very much more than this.

The Kingdom of God is about where we dare to go, whom we love enough to hang out with, it is about our letting go of ego that would make nice, play pretty, and cover up.

The Kingdom of God is certainly NOT about playing it safe.

How big is our God anyway?

And so too, this concept of the narrow way has taken on new understanding. But before I go any further lets take a look at the original text.

Follow this to read all of Matthew 7 – then come back.

The exact verse about the narrow way is found almost smack dab in the middle of this chapter.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14

Now to understand a sentence one must look at the paragraphs and the full context surrounding it.

Let’s first pull out the key words in these two verses. I see:

  • narrow gate
  • a wide gate is easy and = destruction
  • narrow gate is hard and = life
  • few find it

Notice that, in these particular verses, we do not have any clue of what exactly this narrow gate is. To determine this we must look at the rest of the chapter and even beyond that at the manner and spirit of Christ (the speaker here) himself.

In the entire chapter 7 of Matthew we find these key points:

  • do not judge
  • be responsible for yourself first and foremost
  • ask for the things we need, admit our need
  • do to others as we would have others do to us
  • we can tell a tree by its fruit, here is the proof of the person
  • prophesying and acting in the name of Christ does not mean we are his
  • we must build our lives on the wisdom of Christ
  • hearing the words of Christ must change our lives or our lives will not stand

So, this list, these are the narrow way.

Think also of the beginning of this Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:3-9:

  • the poor will have the Kingdom of God
  • those who mourn will be comforted
  • the meek will inherit the earth
  • the hungry for righteousness will be satisfied (i.e.: find righteousness)
  • the merciful will receive mercy
  • the pure in heart will see God
  • peacemakers will be called sons of God

These too indicate the narrow way.

Knowing our poverty of spirit (honesty of heart and soul), those who have those with the heart and the courage to mourn (its’ not all fun and game and not all balderdash), the meek among us, those hungry for God, able to walk in mercy, with a pure heart making peace with others – this is the narrow way.

The narrow way is not proving ‘rightness’, condemnation, judgement, critical spirit, jealousy, christian arrogance, paternalism, and its not even things like holiness or purity.

The narrow way is understanding, realizing on a deep level, that we are not able to be holy or pure. We, you and I, are lost without Christ. That the kingdom of God has nothing to do with anyone else. It has everything to do with our own frailty, our own sin, or own slander, our own lostness.

And once we get this, really get it. I mean, allow the love of God down into the deepest darkest pits INSIDE OF US, then and only then do we operate out of a grace and compassion that marks all those touched by the Living God.

Anything less is merely religion and pretence and conjecture.

That is the wide way. The easy way.

Christ calls us to the narrow way. It’s a vastly different product than what many of us ‘christians’ are living today.

God help us.


I’m always gauging agreement. What I mean is this:

‘How willing are people to agree with me in spirit?’

The path to freedom in Christ is not a difficult one, if we can agree. As a prayer minister I usher and declare freedom from personal strongholds, generational sins, and curses from people. It is my job.

Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead establishing the authority of this earth back where it belonged. In the hands of men and women and by the power of the name and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some months back I was working with a client who was hesitant to release and allow gone a substantial stronghold. I cannot even remember what it was exactly, but what I do remember is her asking me how much time it would take to ‘work’ through it.

My reply, “About 30 seconds.”

Praying deliverance and healing and freedom is easy. It takes no longer than it takes to speak a few sentences. The hard part… agreeing.

As a prayer minister I never lead anyone, or pray over anyone anything, that they have not agreed to and are welcoming and wanting.

The principle of agreement is strong the entire way through scripture. Jesus himself said, “Wherever two of you agree in my name whatever you ask it will be done.”

Simple as that, and as difficult as that.

It’s why I am always gauging the extent to which someone is willing to work with me.

And when I travel and minister in villages and towns to pastors, leadership teams, and congregations, the thing I am always watching for is this ability to agree in the spirit.

Not because I need people to agree with me, but because agreement marks how much work can be done in a place.

In the spring of 2012 I was in Uganda visiting many churches. Each church carried a different focus and expression of God, and each church had its own challenges.

Partway through the trip I was at a church up on a hill overlooking lake Victoria. It was a beautiful location with soft breezes blowing.

The church was primarily children (this was the same in a number of other churches as well – 49% of Ugandans are under the age of 15), with a small smattering of adults.

I was sitting in my usual place at the head of the room, surrounded by about ten other visiting leaders. One of the gentleman I was with suggested that we pray for the sick that afternoon, for we had just the day prior to this one been at a church where various illness’ were healed.

I took the suggestion before the Lord, waiting on the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. But what came to me, what slowly dawned during the morning and the worship, was that something was very wrong in that church.

The worship seemed evil, even though it was the same words and songs as many other places I had been. The children were ‘stupefied’, nearly asleep as I told them a story that morning. I couldn’t get it out of my mind that something was really wrong here.

When we broke for lunch I stepped aside for a bit to inquire of the Lord, to sort out the conflicting messages I was receiving, and to settle on what I was going to do that afternoon.

I really don’t enjoy bringing hard words. And when I am a visiting guest I really don’t like this part of my job. But I knew that we had no freedom for praying healing, for there was, from what I could tell, hidden sin in that church.

The afternoon session began and I, with my translator at my side, simply shared what I was sensing.

“We had been thinking to maybe pray healing this afternoon, but I don’t think we can do that today. Now I am new here, and what I am sensing could be completely wrong, you tell me (as I took in the leadership behind me, asking their input) but it seems that there is hidden sin here.”

A few of the key leaders shook their heads ‘yes’.

I went on to explain the dangers of deception over our hearts and in our journey with the Lord. Much as in a one-on-one prayer ministry session I’ll give some context about what seems to be at hand, always seeking to see if we can enter into agreement.

The people, listening to me, had gone quiet. No one was responding, and I couldn’t quite tell if they were ready to follow my discernment, to enter into confession, and to find healing and freedom.

But, like with any group, we ask for agreement through a physical action. Sometimes we stand, sometimes we kneel, sometimes we raise a hand. It is a simple way for people to say, “Yes what you are saying I agree to and enter into.”

That day, no one was moving. So I just led the way. I explained that for anyone who wanted to join me in prayer confessing this hidden sin, bringing it to the cross, could kneel along with me and my translator.

And because of the severity of the matter, I requested from the leadership at the front of the church that they join the congregation rather than staying at the front. I said, “This is not about leaders and followers today, this is about us all doing business before the Lord.”

There was still no movement from anyone, so I simply turned my back to the congregation and went down on my knees with my eyes closed. My translator did the same.

I couldn’t see what was happening, and I was already beginning to pray, but I heard the whoosh of many people moving and kneeling.

I’m not sure how long I prayed, maybe five minutes at the most. Leading by example and in modelling the process of confession, repentance, renouncing, breaking, cancelling, receiving and sealing that I use with every process of deliverance.

Nearing the end of my prayer I stood and turned back to the crowd and opened my eyes, and every single person, every child, every leader was on their knees. The people had come from the back, the leaders had come from the front.

This agreement allowed a great work of the Lord that day for those people. There was tangible deliverance and new freedoms given in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Agreement determines the amount of work that can be done in any one life, in any one place.

So I am always gauging levels of agreement. For those unable or unwilling to enter into and receive how the Lord works through me, little happens.

For those who enter into agreement, we just keep doing business and getting stuff right with the Lord. This is the work of inner healing and deliverance.

It began with the love of the Father, was established by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, is empowered by the Holy Spirit and is carried on as we agree.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19

Capturing God’s Heart – In Weakness – Volume 23

It is hard being a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For within the role is the dynamic of all of God and then all of who we are.

All of God are the miracles and the signs and the wonders.

All of us are the aches and pains and the loss and the sorrow that we each personally have.

We preach healing and we experience sickness ourselves.

We declare healthy lives and we struggle with estranged relationships.

We teach and lead others to Christ and then can barely find him for ourselves.

Continue reading

A Bigger Church

P1340113 compressedGenerally speaking, as a body of people, the church is afraid. Battered back and forth by our own ideals of making a difference in this world with a compulsive need for theological certainty and stamped permission slips we’ve lost our edge.

We go toward certainty and permission, and then swing wide the other way. It doesn’t take too long to figure out that we can’t have it both ways. At least not at the start. For anything worth doing first requires guts and a certain ‘leave off the unexplainable parts’ in order to get a job done.

The need for psychological certainty is a living death for the church. Fear based ministry ends up being no ministry at all.

For we and everyone in the world are living messy lives. If the outside looks good all we have to do is dig a bit under the surface and we find all sorts of relics and dead bones and living fears. If we are afraid our aim becomes to stay safe and become certain.

God never promised us psychological certainty. In fact “lean not on your own understanding” directly implies that we will not have it all figured out.

Yet how often have we made love and service to people take a back seat to ‘our own understanding’. Unless all the ducks are lined up we hold back. And in that holding back, in that idolatry of ducks-in-a-row, how many potentially mighty acts of God have been aborted.

According to Daniel Goleman author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, one of the key traits of both emotional intelligence and resonant leaders is the ability to walk with mixed emotions and to hold ambiguity well.

According to this, we the church have traditionally been pretty low on the emotional intelligence scale.

My own journey of emotional healing and into emotional intelligence required me to give up my own “best understandings”. God has upset my ‘box’ of paradigms so many times that, thank God, I have finally figured it out that I don’t have God figured out.

How does the Church who claims the upper-hand on the knowledge of God reach for emotional intelligence, leave off our ‘best understanding’ and embrace ambiguity? And why should we?

The reasons are plain.

It is the emotionally intelligent ones who are leading the way. The ability to walk transparent, to examine oneself with good humor and frank understanding, to manage ones feelings and to lead others on a path of similar self discovery and humility is the work done by emotionally intelligent leaders.

Whether they know Christ or not.

Emotional intelligence trumps every other kind of intelligence. It is the kind of internal savvy that cannot be manufactured or controlled. Who we are shows up in our emotional intelligence, and our emotional intelligence interprets what we intellectually know to everyone around us.

Have it intellectually correct but without emotional intelligence and we are simply offensive. The content may be spot-on but without the highway of emotional intelligence the message dies before leaving the gate.

For in any group or group of groups, there are those who are the designated leaders, and then there are the ones that are the true influencers, the ones that people are paying attention to.

That one is always the most emotionally intelligent.

On the world stage, the church is generally not leading in emotional intelligence. Do I dare say that we are not okay with ambiguity. Might it be that we are not all that good at self-examination. Do we know how to learn from others who are not the same as us? How deeply afraid are we?

The only way I know to save the Church from itself is the same process that any one of us can employ to save ourselves from ourselves, and that is to get out there and get our hands dirty.

Entering into something bigger than us automatically strips us of pride and self-sufficiency, immediately challenges our primary assumptions, and brings us face to face with our own ugly arrogance.

We won’t have it all figured out, God shows up differently than how we might like, and in this we are loosed from fear and the need for psychological certainty. For when we let down our guard we find God in the smack-dab middle of all we don’t know. Such a blessed relief.

We are not called to know it all or to have God all figured out. It is not an intellectually-led discussion. We are in fact invited into relationship first and foremost, and relationships require emotions, and uncertainty, risking and listening and a whole host of other things.

Fear, paranoia, hunkered in, closed systems, big sticks, little self awareness, talking first before we listen, is all the work of the enemy.

God’s world is much bigger than that. May the Church be bigger than that too.

God Forbid

capturing courage international, living outrageous lives, going after the gold, not settling, go for more, more service, more love, take a risk, live a life bigger than you, make a difference, go after your calling, invest in your dreams, respond to God's call for you, refuse less-than living, make some changes, I ran across someone yesterday using the verse, “I must be less and he must be more” to justify not going after anything more than what they already have, to merely settle, and silence the whispers that say, ‘there is more’.

To the person stuck with self at the center this is the kind of theology we get.

To those hunkered in right and wrong, good and bad kind of thinking, theology gets skewed.

“I must be less and he must be more” becomes about doing less, when it is rather an injunction to living bigger than ourselves.

I less and God more means that our lives are poured out on behalf of others.

I less and God more means that the decision we make do not revolve around our comfort or our safety, whether physically or psychologically.

Refusing to go after that ‘more’ that God calls each of us to, is choosing psychological safety. And it is death. A living death.

Because we are in fact made for so much more.

Contentment in God is not about ensuring our comfort. Its about giving our comfort away and finding in the midst of less that we are at home none-the-less.

Oswald Chambers put it best, “Let us pray lest we seek merely for peace and not to and for God himself.”

God forbid that we should use his word to live safer lives.


P1310658A new year brings all sorts of expectations and possibilities. It is no different here at Capturing Courage.

With a Team Weekend Away in just a few days, we will be looking at what 2012 was and then directing our gaze forward.

My own heart has been meditating on the question, “What do I want?” It is the same question offered to me by the Lord, “What do you want?”

It is a question beyond all the ought and should that so easily entangles us. It is a question that presumes upon an open arena upon which to play. Like a canvas that has not yet been painted on.

What do you want?

It is the same question that Jesus asked others.

The blind man Bartimeaus was by the side of the road, he was calling out to Jesus and trying to get near to him, and Jesus asks, “What do you want?”

It is both a liberating and offensive question. (He is blind, can you not see what he might want?!)

And yet in this question Jesus puts Bartimeaus in the drivers seat of his own life. Yes Jesus could work a miracle for him, but did he want it?

Jesus in no way ever presumed to know what another wanted. He always asked.

And God is still asking each and every one of us this same question every single day, “What do you want?”

It’s not an easy one to answer. For the query leads us to what and how might we engage what we want. There will be action and risk put to task. There will be a stretching of who we are and we won’t remain the same.

What do we want?

While the course is laid, the manner of movement established, the values and the non-negotiable made plain to see, the actual action we then take comes down to what we want.

It is the place where we must sink into our passion. Where our hearts desires are first acknowledged and then given voice.

As I personally look at 2013 there are twenty-three overseas communities that have invited me to come and visit and minister to them. That is more than I can do this next year. So how do we decide? How do we figure out where Capturing Courage will be going?

We decide by heart. What places are drawing me to them? Which ones resonate the strongest? Whom might I enjoy serving alongside the most? Where might I pour love this year?

There is for sure an element of where might God like me to go and the timing is of course very important, and yet at the base equation I cannot check my heart alongside his heart if I do not yet know my heart.

What do I want?

God has opened every door and therefore every door is free to go through. Open doors are a done deal.

It now comes down to, “What do I want?”

So that is the question I am settling into these last weeks. I’m getting in touch with my own desire and passion and hearts response amongst the invitations and grand folk I’ve already met and the phone calls and emails of those I’ve not yet met.

Problem is, I want to go to each one of these places. My heart says ‘yes’ to all of them, and so I must in fact go deeper and get in touch with my own passion on a more intimate level in order to answer the question.

It isn’t easy. Passion never is.

Blind Bartimeaus could have asked for lunch for his next day. Or he could have requested a fresh pair of socks. Maybe a new t-shirt or shoes even.

But Bartimeaus had been doing some soul searching. He had been getting in touch with his passion and the deepest desires of his heart and so when Jesus asked him what he wanted he was ready, “I want to see.”

He was instantly healed that day. (see Mark 10:46-52)

“I want to see” are profound and beautiful words.

How many of us are really honest about what we want? How many of us are willing to risk asking and speaking a desire that is so risky that if we put it out there and it doesn’t come to be we will forever be shamed?

Not many of us. But that is the task of our every day and the privilege of living.

Ask and it will be given to you.

What are we asking for?

What do we want?

Moving from Conviction to Action

the art of convictionThe key difference between people who are making a difference in this world and those who are struggling through their every day can be summed up in this one admonition:

Pay Attention to Conviction.

Consider this passage from Isaiah 59:10-12,

“We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes, we look for rescue, but it is far away from us. For our sins are piled up before God and they testify against us.”

Have you ever ignored the thought of a good thing you could have done for another?

This is what Isaiah is describing.

I’ve experienced this. Where thoughts of the good I could do for another, once ignored, become a wall between me and that person and simultaneously between me and God.

Where good actions denied become reason for justification and defense and cover-up.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at this verse spoken three different ways,

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17 English Standard Translation

“In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.” James 4:17 The Message

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 New Living Translation

James was a pretty wise man.

The book Leadership & Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute spells out this exact same thing but without any of the scripture (I love it how much of current wisdom is mirroring so exactly the word of God).

They simply explain it this way. When we have a compulsion and compelling towards a good something, be it word or deed, and we ignore that compelling we then put ourselves in a box.

In the box we then make the other bad and wrong in some way, thereby justifying our lack of action.

For instance. Consider you are walking down an inner-city street and you have the thought to give $20 to the homeless person sitting on the sidewalk.

Now imagine that you ignore this thought. What immediately happens is that you will make all sorts of reasons why you couldn’t or shouldn’t give the money,

“Well he would have probably just used it for drugs or something.”

“She just needs to get her act together, I’m not going to reward her poor choices.”

The transition from the compelling thought to give $20 to the justification of why you are not, happens so fast (in the blink of an eye) that we hardly understand the dynamic.

But once we see it, so much of our stuck lives begin to make sense.

As Isaiah put it, “our sins are piled up before God and testify against us.” (59:12)

Remember, sin is, “knowing what you ought to do and not doing it.” (james 4:17)

Those stuck are those ignoring the thoughts that compel us to action. When we ignore what we can do for others we enter into a space of hiding and cover-up. We are not in integrity with ourselves and therefore not in integrity with anyone else.

In regards to sin it is as we read farther into the Word of God that we come to see that God moves us from ought and should, and from the letter of the law which was, ‘designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised’ (galatians 3:19) to this inner core integrity from which we can all live.

Sin is so much more than the letter of the law. In fact, sins that pile between us and God are much more about the good ideas that we are ignoring, the conviction and compulsions and compelling of our hearts towards others that we are not doing.

If we want to live a free life, if we want to live an increasingly satisfying and substantially fulfilling life it is imperative that we stop ignoring conviction.

Getting out of the box is all about doing the things and speaking the words that we know are ours to do and say.

In this we have nothing to hide. Nothing is piled up against us. We simply go from strength to strength.

And our world, one compelling act at a time is transformed.

Lives are touched. None of us are the same.