My Radical Family is a Threat to Society

This morning I was reminded that I come from a history of people who were a threat to society… 🙂 Radicals.

“The Anabaptists’ reform efforts were a threat to their society, because they claimed Christianity was to be lived out in small communities in accordance with the explicit teaching of Scripture. Similarly, the first-century Christians were a threat to their society because they claimed that there was a more important kingdom than that of the Roman Empire: the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Both Christian movements spread because of the way people maintained their faith in Christ and love for others, even in the face of persecution.”

At what cost do we follow Jesus even when our ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ persecute us?

Read the full article here with an interesting video discussion…

Do you live in fear or in expectation?

nathan-dumlao-287713I recently was blessed by these words sent to me in an email story…

Expectation positions us to see miracles, big and small. It sharpens our vision and focuses our attention towards God. It liberates us from apprehension that blinds us to the majesty before us.

Instead of being shackled by fearing the worst, we’re free to recognize and receive what God is delighted to give.

What are your current expectations of God?

And how does He want to expand them? 😀 

Graham Cooke, Shawn Bolz and Jonathan and Melissa Helser are doing an entire 3 day event this coming weekend on how to create a lifestyle of EXPECTATION in God! The event is sold out but you can click here to join the Livestream!

And beyond the event? Enjoy some brilliant perspectives…

My Dream for the Church in Canada

fullsizeoutput_133b2What do you long for, for the Church in Canada or even all of North America?

Come dream with me…

My Dream for the Church in Canada

I pray for the Church to be so blessed by, and hungry and thirsty for Holy Spirit.

I dream of…

  • People hungrily meditating on the Word… not for knowing about God, but for knowing Him personally and for heart transformation, enjoying rich fellowship, breaking bread together with loving hearts, fervent praying, sharing with each other in unity, worshiping God together, joyfully serving together, giving, empowering, with external missional focus, flowing in love and grace.
  • People bearing fruit of Holy Spirit because they are first abiding in Christ, seeking His kingdom (not our own), relying on the strength of Holy Spirit and not on human talent or ambition.
  • God wanting to draw the Church closer to Himself and away from relying on tradition and mere intellect. (People are hungry for testimony and spiritual relationship with a relational God. We are in a post-modern age of people who want to know our story, not how much we know.) God is wanting us to be in love with Him, trusting Holy Spirit, truly doing life with Him that we are willing to hear His voice because we are His sheep, and He is our Shepherd.
  • The Church being a community of dreamers and not dream squashers.
  • Love being the greatest in the Church– because principles without love is legalism / rules without relationship leads to rebellion / because lacking in love and lacking in 2 way relational prayer puts tradition and religion in the way of the Gospel.
  • The Church introducing people to our loving God, and showing His love, with people being drawn to Him and His abundant life within us, instead of spending our energies on arguing, and aligning with the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy.
  • The Church understanding that lingering and resting in God’s love is the starting place. We do not earn His love by doing things for Him, nor do we earn other people’s love by serving. We serve out of loving intimacy with our Father – practicing prayer, rest and worship, and not serving out of anxiety, guilt, neediness, and a never-ending to-do list.
  • The Church known as a community that lovingly develops leaders and not as the organization that burns out leaders and volunteers.
  • The Church playing a strong part in bringing God’s love to the world, truly knowing His love and showing His love to each other.
  • The Church becoming a place where broken relationships are restored because of a hunger for righteousness and God’s love far above a hunger to be right.
  • The Church being a place where friendships are forged for building God’s kingdom and not for meeting selfish needs.
  • The Church as being a place of inclusive welcome and not exclusive cliques.
  • The Church being a place of loving, edifying language that is helpful for building up the community.
  • The Church being known for admitting mistakes and seeking to repair and restore hurts previously caused in Church history.

I dream of…

  • Disciples multiplying disciples because they are simply contagious in their faith.
  • Every day, the Church people experiencing Divine appointments and conversations with people on the street, in the marketplace, etc.
  • People who can’t help but bring the presence of God everywhere they go. If you seek to build a church, you rarely produce disciples…If you seek to make disciples, you get the church.
  • Each believer praying for God to give them 3-5 people to invest life in for the next 12 months, and challenging them at the end of 12 months to replicate the process, and watching what God does. Jesus spent 90 percent of his time with 12 men and a few women. And out of that, he focused on three: James, John, and Peter.

I dream of…

  • Men being spiritual fathers and women being spiritual mothers.
  • Men recognizing women as sisters in Christ.
  • Women recognizing men as brothers in Christ and not threats to favour, or competition.
  • Women seeing each other as sisters in building God’s kingdom and not threats to friendship or favour.
  • Women with leadership gifts not seen as usurping Christ’s authority but seen as faithful stewards of their gifts.
  • Holy Spirit not being quenched in the silencing of both women and men.
  • Women finding the Church to be a place of freedom and safety – empowered to bear His image and serve faithfully.
  • Men finding the Church to be a place of safety where they don’t have to be stoic, but can be authentic and vulnerable with other men, with no shame of sharing struggles because Holy Spirit’s love is stronger.

I dream of…

  • The Church being a place of celebration and empowering each other – rather than comparison and competition.
  • A people who seek to bless each other during gatherings – seeing themselves as priestly brothers and sisters partnering with any hired pastors.
  • Children celebrated and encouraged as powerful prayer warriors, worshipers and kingdom builders, that they inspire their parents, their teachers, and their friends with their faith, their prayers, and their unselfish service.
  • Youth so hungry and thirsty to see God at work, that the older generation is inspired and blessed to join them in the hunger and thirst – not caring if their music is loud, their jeans have holes, or arms have tattoos because their hearts are filled with grace.
  • The older generation recognizing the younger as arrows to invest in, craft and shape with gentle loving care (Titus 2 intentional discipleship of the next generation).
  • Families adopting other families into a discipleship lifestyle.
  • Couples mentoring other couples in marriage.
  • Parents mentoring other parents in the journey.
  • Parents discipling their children and partnering with the Church (who is intentionally discipling parents), rather than expecting volunteers and leaders to do it all.
  • Pastors equipping the saints to do the work of ministry, not the pastor or the staff executing all the ministry.
  • Pastors leading with a kingdom mindset – not envious of other leaders/ministry areas.
  • Congregation seeking to bless and pray for leaders and not worshiping them as idols or resorting to devour them when expectations are unmet.
  • Pastors, elders, and congregation loving and trusting each other in transparency.

I dream of…

  • The Church viewing hardship as necessary to rest in our identity and rise up against the enemy’s lies and proving God’s goodness.
  • Leaders resting in patience and perseverance to stand ground in Holy Spirit conviction, not intimidated by fear of people or money. People may choose to leave, but Spirit-led leaders stand their ground.
  • The Church not afraid of people, or money leaving the Church when we stand for truth, because we worship a God who has the largest bank in the universe and we are building His kingdom, not our own. He cares more about our obedience and sacrifice than people-pleasing which is idolatry.
  • The Church believing God is working something out on our behalf.
  • The Church going in with a few small stones and trusting God to deliver as we stand up against intimidation of Goliath or like the little boy with his lunch not expecting to eat a bite only to discover God can feed a crowd and provide leftovers.
  • Fear not being our motivating factor, but Faith!
  • Choosing to fight from victory, rather than for victory.
  • God seeing that He can then trust us, and birth a greater anointing over us and trust us with more.
  • The Church being a church that hires pastors only because Holy Spirit called us to appoint them.
  • The Church not being afraid of bad reports like the spies to Canaan, but instead we trust in God who has promised us the land and His protection.
  • The Church being an apostolic sending station/missional outpost/church planting/kingdom building church – to the city, the province, the country, and around the world.
  • The Church in Canada continuing to financially provide for missionaries while seeing themselves as daily missionaries too.
  • People going out healing the sick, bringing life from death, driving out evil in Jesus name.
  • The Church moving outside the doors of buildings to bring the love and kindness of God to the city and beyond recognizing that Jesus left the building(Interestingly, statistics still indicate that people are leaving the church in North America in increasing numbers to find …Jesus.)

  • The Church seeing the bigger picture together of kingdom building, dreaming and listening to Holy Spirit for each assignment.
  • The Church not limiting who is allowed to spread the Gospel of God’s redeeming love based on gender, or age, or education, etc… but on the anointing of Holy Spirit.

I dream of…

  • Prayer being a main activity because we are hungry for the voice and move of God – in community, not with just one person praying at the front, but clusters in homes, in the gym, in the sanctuary, prayer walks throughout the Church building and neighbourhood, and throughout the city as the Spirit leads because we are commissioned with the building of God’s kingdom.
  • The Church not guilty of silencing God’s voice by shying away from facilitating corporate prayer in gatherings and events because it may cause seekers or even long time followers to feel uncomfortable. I dream of the Church to be unapologetically a House of Prayer where people can take part and listen in on the greatest 2-way conversation we have ever been gifted, and to come away knowing they were in the presence of God and His people.

I dream of…

  • The Church not driven by flesh, or fear, not by arrogance, and not making each other angry or resorting to jealousy, but being a Spirit-led church as in Galatians 5 – being a loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled family who daily die to self, and who live by Holy Spirit.

How do we turn these dreams into reality? Pray them! 🙂
For myself, I’ve chosen to craft a 31 days of prayer guide to ask Holy Spirit to lead and fill the Church in Canada.

Intentional Meals Together?

“Cook at home and enjoy family meals.”
I read these words recently in the newly updated food guide…

feast.togetherThanks to a young friend recently visiting from Germany, who inspired us, I have been encouraged to ALSO include EVERY family member in the making of suppers, no matter the initial headaches, and turn them into a s..l..o..w.. going culinary social event from start to finish.

Food prep, feast, clean up…

I realize that though our Canadian family is one of the few (it seems) who aren’t running off to a million events after downing a quick fast food supper meal, I realized we still were not eating slow enough… like Europeans seem to do…

feasttogether

These folks across the ocean seemingly take 2-3 ours of everything together – food prep together, eat together, drink together, visit together… and often then games together.

I like this.
Intentional togetherness feasting.

I’m thinking too of the early house churches where the communion dinner was a full intimate meal and not like now in many places with little cups and little wafers done assembly line like and quickly with no interaction with others.

So, I’ve been re-inspired to swim upstream in my culture…

Make meals together.
Eat together.
Linger together.
Celebrate together.
Play together.
Bonus delight: invite a friend or two, or a family or two on the whole process! Adopt others into your family for dinner.

Forget the too many cooks in the kitchen theory.
(Yikes, did I just say that?)
Let’s make it work.

I wonder too…
Could we have less anxiety and depression in our country if we did this more…?
Less isolation…?

(Wow, all that prompted from the newly updated food guide…)

 

Inspired by:
8 ways Canada’s new food guide will change how you feed your kids…
https://www.todaysparent.com/family/family-health/new-canadas-food-guide-is-awesome/

Spiritual Abuse?

Spiritual abuse is not a widely discussed topic. It occurs when a leader manipulates people to achieve selfish goals. Most abusers are unaware of the harm they inflict.

Internal factors contributing to an abusive environment are: Christians wanting to trust their leaders; not wanting to be disloyal; not wanting to be “a problem”; and accommodating abuse because they become invested. A likely external factor in the rise of spiritual abuse is our culture’s obsession with results and an insatiable “thirst for more.”

There are two types of spiritually abusive leaders: insecure leaders use power to protect themselves; narcissistic leaders seek to accomplish some great cause for validation and self-worth. Narcissistic leaders are fueled by narcissistic followers who also find value from belonging to a great cause.

Signs of an abusive system are: power-posturing; distorted loyalty; people are being used; unhealthy centrality of the pastor; an elitist attitude; inability to discuss concerns; and people being labeled as divisive for raising valid issues.

Those trapped in abusive systems can either flee or fight.

If this sounds like your journey, you are not crazy…

Read the full article… Spiritual Abuse: The Unspoken Crisis

Other resources:

Emotional Abuse: The Crushing of the Human Spirit

The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church

“Doing” Church in North America – YouTube – Graham Cooke – “We make victims of our heroes.”

Graham Cooke brilliantly describes how “doing” church today must start with leaders who can model freedom.

Graham goes onto say that church revolves around 3 types of people:

  • Initiators,
  • Enablers and
  • Resisters.

He skillfully describes if churches want to succeed, they must learn about each group and explains that if we have any hopes of accomplishing anything in church, we must understand each people group and learn how to lead them.

Graham warns that if we’re not careful, we will unconsciously make victims out the people we value most.

Visit: www.GrahamCooke.com for more.

Permission to Do Church Differently

Permission to Do Church Differently with Graham Cooke

Skip to start watching the video at 9:45…

(Source: Permission to Do Church Differently with Graham Cooke at Believer’s Edge from Believer’s Edge on Vimeo.)

Leave your thoughts below… 🙂

9 Changes to Make Before a Church Dies

My heart ached when I read this post from Thom Rainer… It triggered pain that I have known… I pray for churches across North America (my heart lies there)…

urgent-church-nine-changes-we-must-make-or-die

“..Many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

I call these churches “the urgent church.” Time is of the essence. If changes do not happen soon, very soon, these churches will die. The pace of congregational death is accelerating.

What, then, are some of the key changes churches must make?”

Read: URGENT CHURCH: 9 Changes We Must Make or Die

From Word Curses to Blessing – Uncanny Story

Is life a bit nuts for you? …with people’s word curses rather than words of blessing?

Do you live in a series of uncanny events?

Free video and free pdf summary below…

{This book recently has taken me back to my Old Testament prophets class in Bible school and my professor weeping over the disobedience of Israel and the curses and the blessings…

(He was a parent. Can you blame him?)

Rest assured the book took me through the New Testament, showing where curses and blessings were recorded even spoken by Jesus Himself.}

For a period of my ministry life, there had been a series of uncanny events around me that blew my mind… especially people’s growing word curses and a lack of words of blessing…

People who once were encouragers became accusers,

People who stood for truth, began to spread lies,

People who stood for something, bowed at the slightest persecution,

People I respected, became disrespectful.

I thought I was going nuts. I began to ask myself,…

“Why the madness and crazy making?

What happened to integrity, and risk-taking obedience because of our Holy Spirit conviction?

What happened to building God’s Kingdom and not our own?

Why are we bowing down to others rather than God?”

My body crashed into exhaustion and slow motion. My speech delayed and stuttering, and my mobility diminished. My heart broken and mind confused. My doctor ordered me to stay away from my environment immediately…

In my path toward healing, along with much time resting and seeking the Lord, a mentor …who with a team of prayer warriors who prayed for 3 hours over me because they could feel the spiritual attack over me, (Hallelujah – someone else could feel it!) …then for further repair, he directed me to this reminder on curses and blessings…

I began to apply what I re-learned and began to experience a tremendous freedom.

I have prayed numerous freedom in Christ prayers and prayers of spiritual protection over 10 years of pastoral ministry and the spiritual warfare that comes with being a shepherd of the people, but this seemed to cut things off at the root; at word curses spoken over me and perhaps also over those leaders who had gone before me who were attacked and who also had crashed.

We shall see…

Time will tell.

My body slowly repairs… with a circle of specialists telling me to rest, and delight in truth, and have fun with tank-filling family and friends.

I think it is no coincidence that at the same time I began to pray these prayers, a group of people and leaders began repenting on behalf of a larger community breaking generational sins. I am told it was a beautiful, long overdue process of confession and surrender to the Lord for a community in long-time brokenness!

(I remember doing prayer walks every week around the main building with my 80 year old prayer partner for 5 years (once a missionary in a part of the world that experienced spiritual warfare and deliverance on a regular basis), praying for such a day of repentance and renewal! Eight years later, it finally happened! I visited with her to celebrate the good news and we wept and gave thanks together. Though we had experienced individuals and families in repentance within our community over the years, this appeared to be the mother load.)

A new chapter in freedom?
It takes a long time for a ship to be turned around and so we continue to pray…!

Watch the video below and read through the pdf summary of the talk yourself…

If you are in a series of uncanny events, what have you got to lose? The teaching all stems from the Word of God and the importance of what comes out of our mouths… that we can speak death or life over others.

How to Pass From Curse to Blessing by Derek Prince


1) Video teaching:

2) PDF talk summary with prayer:

http://www.dieakker.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/explaining-blessings-and-curses-derek-prince.pdf

My prayer is that YOU will be free from curses spoken over you. And that YOU will use your mouth to bless others, and not destroy!

(And if you were one of those who spoke curses over me, I am learning to walk in forgiveness and praying blessing over you… I’m deeply and prayerfully all about long-term generational freedom.)

You reap what you sow. Let us plant seeds of blessing for the next generation.

P.S. You can read the full book here if you need more info…

Blessing or Curse: You Can Choose: Freedom from Pressures You Thought You Had to Live with

And here is the 2nd part of my healing journey… Prayers that Heal the Heart

Comparison Steals our Joy

 

comparison_free_print-1
Image source: http://margaretfeinberg.com

I was asked to prepare a talk on comparison for teens and twenties. Here’s what I learned. (Sources at the bottom.)

Comparison washes away God’s plan for us and sidetracks us with someone else’s journey.

 

Questions to ponder:

  1. When you play games, are you a good loser? How do you handle winning?
  2. Have you ever had to work hard to meet someone else’s expectations? How did it affect your relationship with that person?
  3. Are you exhausted or broke from trying to keep up with friends or neighbors?
  4. Is there anyone you secretly enjoy seeing fail?

Comparison kills our joy and instead fuels anxiety, shame, embarrassment, loneliness, guilt….  It destroys our identity. It keeps us from meeting our full potential. It keeps others around us from meeting their full potential. It keeps our world from experiencing fullness. It saps our energy and empties our tanks.

Comparison… stirs up envy and jealousy…Think about it within your world.

How do you see comparison taking over your joy?

“I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind. …Very little food eaten in peace is better than twice as much earned from overwork and chasing the wind.” – Ecclesiastes 4:4,6

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Jesus said… “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come to give life to the full.” – John 10:10

When we compare ourselves to others, we are allowing the enemy to destroy – us and others around us. We are not allowing Jesus to give us full life.

If comparison is the thief of joy, and the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy… And Jesus is the Life and came to give us life, let us look at how comparison kills and then how Jesus wants to rather give us life…

First off this is what comparison does…

Comparison… 

  1. Feeds our pride (pride leads to destruction).
    Proverbs 18:12 (CEV)Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor.
  2. Makes us forget who we are – our identity (we use others as a measuring stick, rather than Jesus.)
  3. Keeps us from fully experiencing joy…
    • We experience depression and lower self-esteem when we compare ourselves to others,
    • We resent people we love when we compare ourselves to them,
    • We fail to celebrate our own wins when we compare ourselves. “When we measure our worth with someone else’s yardstick, we always come up short.”
    • We fall in love with perception and hate reality when we compare ourselves with others. Comparing your reality to the *perception* of someone else’s reality is like comparing your real life to someone’s Instagram. Don’t fall for an ‘instasham’ version of other’s lives. Their life appears perfect, but no one’s life is perfect – there’s just no public record of the ‘yuck and muck’ behind the scenes.

Instead, fullness of joy is found in His presence…

Psalm 16:11 English Standard Version (ESV)

You make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 Or another way…

Psalm 16:11 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

You have shown me

the path to life,

and you make me glad

by being near to me.

Sitting at your right side,

I will always be joyful.

 

Practically, what can we do instead of comparison that will bring life- both to ourselves and to others?

What can you do as an athlete, artist,… or a sibling, or friend in order to keep from letting the thief of life use you to do his dirty work?

 

Instead of Comparison:

  • Celebrate instead! Build others up instead of tearing down – celebrate other people’s success. “There is a great amount of power that comes with not ruining your own happiness and by celebrating the win of someone else.” Compliment, don’t compare. “Whenever you find you are comparing yourself to someone else, you should go right up to that person and compliment them on the very thing you’re jealous of or comparing yourself to.” Look at the people you are envious of, ask yourself why, then celebrate that thing in them, and celebrate that desire in yourself!
  • Recognize that competition is good – it drives you to be the best you, but comparison makes you feel bad about yourself from the start. Accept the competition, but reject the comparison trap.
  • Shut off the negative talk in your head and instead choose positive self-talk. When you start hearing the voice of comparison in your head say, “You’ll never be as good as her”, shut it down with positive self-talk… “I am loved, I am enjoying giving it my all, I can bless others where I am…” (Take notice of your negative self-talk, notice what the trigger is, be gentle with yourself, remind yourself that you’re done with the comparison trap, flip it around with positive talk. (Retrain your brain to stop comparing and start celebrating.)
  • Remember who you are and whose you are (your true identity). Your identity is found in your Creator and Saviour Jesus, not in how many friends you have, how talented you are, how many ‘wins’, etc…
  • Linger in God’s presence daily. (Remember Psalm 16:11) Drink in His wisdom through the Word. Sit and listen for His voice like you’re chilling with Him on His right side. Ask Him questions…. ask Him why you’re envious. Ask Him to help you replace the envy with honour and joy.
  • Focus on the path He has for you. God has given you a special set of gifts, personality traits, talents, etc… (Strengths-finder, spiritual gifts inventory…)

 

Further Thoughts:

Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides. 

Use the success of others as a mirror.

“There’s gold to be found in your comparison habit, if you’re willing to look for it.”

Think of someone who you compare yourself to…

  • What do they have that you wish you had?
  • What do you admire about them?
  • What have they done to get where they are today?
  • How does this relate to your own values?
  • Where do you currently embody these qualities?
  • How might your expression of these qualities differ from theirs?
  • What can you learn from your desire to have these qualities more fully?

Further Questions to Ponder:

– Is there anyone you secretly enjoy seeing fail? What can you do to extend that person grace?

– What is one thing you can do this week to allow the thought of peacefulness and contentment to help you pause in the midst of the comparison trap?

MOVING FORWARD 

Maybe you’ve racked up debt trying to keep up with your friends or neighbors. Maybe your high expectations drive others crazy, or yourself crazy. Maybe you have relatives you don’t get along with because you envy what they have and rejoice in their failures.

You can’t genuinely love someone whom you secretly hope will fail. You can’t genuinely love someone whom you’re pushing to meet a standard so you can feel better about yourself. There’s no win in comparison. There’s never a finish line or sense of satisfaction.

(Retrain Your Brain):
Verses to Look up and Memorize: (summaries listed below…)

  • Matthew 6:25-33 – (Do not worry. Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.Seek Him first. He will give you everything you need.)
  • Phil 4:12-13 – (Learn to live in contentment.)
  • Heb 13:5-6 – (God is your helper. He will never fail or abandon you.)
  • Rom 8:28 – (God has a good plan and calling for those who love Him.)
  • Galatians 5:16-26 – (Envy is not living by the Holy Spirit’s power.)
  • 1 Peter 5:6-7 – (Humble yourselves. God will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.)
  • Ecc 4:4,6 – (Most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. …Better to be happy with little than to overwork yourself for personal gain.)

Look up the full passages listed above and post them up where you can see them. Choose joy and celebration over comparison. 🙂

Article Sources:

http://alliworthington.com/blog//how-to-escape-the-comparison-trap

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/how-avoid-comparison-trap

http://www.livescience.com/18324-facebook-depression-social-comparison.html

http://99u.com/articles/33341/comparison-trap-envy-jealous-success-coworkers-friends

http://biblereasons.com/comparing-yourself-to-others/

http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/spiritualformation/findingcomparisons.html

Andy Stanley, Comparison Trap, search on Youtube.com