From Religion to Relationship :)

From religion to relationship. Yes, yes, yes…

This was the journey of Saul of Tarsus to become the Apostle Paul. It took a paradigm shift, a transformation of mind to heart. Jesus got his attention, blinded him for days and then gave him new eyes to see! Jesus showed him that it wasn’t about rules, but about relationship!

I read this recently…

“If you believe the wrong thing, it will take away the power of the right thing. For example, if you’re legalistic and think that you have to earn your way to God, the importance of grace diminishes. I think of how before Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul the persecutor operated in pure legalism. When the scales fell off his eyes, his religious mindset was not just broken, but God created a new nature in him. In this new nature, Saul turned Paul was not only freed from the religious pressure nagging him in his inner thoughts, but also his mind was renewed.” (Shawn Bolz, God Secrets.)

Legalism prevents us from intimately knowing the Father in the greatest relationship we could ever have.

Legalism also keeps us from loving others, and stuck in just knowing about others and easily slipping into judgement.

Does learning the truth about others always set one free? Maybe not. I can think of learning a few things that did not bring me peace.

BUT, seeing God’s Truth about others is another thing…

Seeing how God loves someone stuck in legalism/religion, whatever… (and instead seeing HIS Truth available to them), helps to set me free to love them as God loves them, and pray for them.

I’m still learning this.

Yes… there IS the call to wipe the dust off our feet when our gift of peace is not received… When peaceful relationship is not welcomed, keep walking… Freedom is elsewhere. Submitting to religion (or someone’s legalism) is not freedom. I don’t want to be Saul of Tarsus or friends with that guy! I want to journey with Paul and see God do mighty things!! God’s kingdom is about freedom!

Ask God:

Where am I trapped in my thinking?

What do you want to set me free from?

Who do you want to set me free from?

(Friendship is related to the word ‘freedom’. If you are trapped, constantly torn apart, that is not a friendship, that is abusive. One of the hardest things to do is walk away from someone you love who has continued to abuse you, manipulate you, control you… Tough love is no longer enabling someone’s pattern of abuse, legalism, religion, etc. Loving them is showing them that behaviour is not okay.)

God, what promise do you have for me?

What gift do you have for me?

Enjoy a 2-way relationship with Father God who made a way through His son Jesus.

Read and Meditate on His Word.
Ask Him questions.
Listen and Write.
Pray it all back to Him!

Christianity is not a religion (earning our way to God’s love), it’s a relationship (He is love and extends His love to us through His son Jesus who opened the doorway).

 

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.

Prayer is Breathing

To-Be-A-Christian-Without-Prayer-Is-No-More-Possible.png
Martin Luther King, Jr on prayer

Trying to do life and lead in Jesus’ name without prayer is like marching ahead without receiving the Captain’s orders. It’s like King Saul taking matters into his own hands without hearing from the Lord (through the prophet Samuel).

Leading without praying is arrogance and ministry suicide…

In 1 Samuel 13, Saul and his army were waiting for Samuel to come offer a sacrifice before going to war. Samuel had not arrived, and the soldiers were about to run away rather than fight the Philistines. Losing his patience, Saul offered a sacrifice on his own.

Just as Saul finished the sacrifice, Samuel arrived and said, “You have done a stupid thing. . . . You have not obeyed the LORD your God” (1 Samuel 13:13).

Why was offering a sacrifice foolish? Saul had disobeyed a direct command from the prophet Samuel given in 1 Samuel 10:8: “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

Saul lacked patience and dependence upon God. When he did not wait the full seven days, he showed weaknesses that made him unfit as king, including impatience and self-reliance. His offering showed that he did not thirst to hear God’s voice (through the prophet Samuel) or obey God, but rather take control of the situation himself. The king was to follow the Lord’s commands, but felt he could do as he chose and made a foolish mistake.

Are you thirsty for God’s voice… or for Him to do your bidding?
Trust Him to know better than you!

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Corrie Ten Boom on prayer


What situations can you bring to the Lord in prayer right now?

Pray: Dear Father, I admit that I fail to fully depend on you and  your timing. I surrender to you and your Divine plan and timing. Bind my heart and mind and body to your will and to your truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Extra fun…

Here are a few goodies from my childhood church bulletin…(I save everything!)

A church that praysHS sermon outline = May 26-96

Some stories and books and sermons that have inspired me…

Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People – Jim Cymbala

Rees Howells: Intercessor – Norman Grubb

How to Listen to God – Charles Stanley

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home – Richard J Foster

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears – Mark Batterson

Prayer – O. Hallesby

What Happens When Women Pray – Evelyn Christenson

Sermon notes from Charles Stanley on Listening to God

Relationship, Not Religion

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Source: bible.com

Update: My heart is full! I’m slowly gaining strength physically as my nervous system heals since my doctor ordered me to leave my place of ministry for peaceful rest back in June 2016. Though, last week I was in bed 3 days and one was in the house with all blinds drawn, ear plugs in and sunglasses on. I was over stimulated by light and noise. But, my heart is full of joy!!!!

I hear God’s voice in a fresh new way than ever before! (No distractions.) He has affirmed me over and over. While I spent regular days in prayer as a pastor, annual prayer retreats with my ministry team serving with me, and on prayer walks with prayer partners seeking His voice before doing any kind of ministry, He just didn’t get enough time with me I guess. 🙂 It feels like He pulled me out to rest and linger with Him.

This morning I meditated on how Jesus lingered longer so that he would show up only after Lazarus died in order to reveal the Father’s power! I realized that lingering with Jesus longer in my physical state will only breathe testimony to His power whenever the time is right to follow my next assignment. We truly need to die to self in order for God’s new life to spring forth!
For now, He invites me to linger longer.

Proverbs 3:
3 Don’t let love and truth ever leave you.
Tie them around your neck.
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will find favor and a good name
in the eyes of God and people.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.
Do not depend on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways obey him.
Then he will make your paths smooth and straight.

I once preached 3 specific sermons on Sabbath rest, the nurturing heart of God, and being family together leaving no one behind. Those messages I once spoke both comforted and convicted. I see how the enemy hates when God’s people learn that God longs to linger with us, rest with us, and invite us to be family together. I think he’d much rather us believe that God must be put in a box, and that we get to tell God how to operate.

Isaiah 43:
19 I am about to do something new.
It is beginning to happen even now.
Don’t you see it coming?
I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert.
I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.

 
Acts 2:
17 “ ‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Holy Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions.
Your old men will have dreams.
18 In those days, I will pour out my Spirit on my servants.
I will pour out my Spirit on both men and women.
When I do, they will prophesy.
21 Everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

God has encouraged me over and over how Moses spent more time with God than the people and delegated leadership in order to be face to face with God. A mentor has been reminding me that how well we lead (as spiritual leaders) those who follow us, is the result of how much time we have spent with God, not necessarily to seek answers but to minister to the heart of God. Yes, to God. He longs to be in relationship with us and out of that, He leads us. We cannot lead out of our own human convictions – even human convictions we have after ‘figuring out’ our doctrine.

That’s religion and not relationship.

If persecution arises and we merely lead out of human conviction, we easily deny our ‘convictions’ in fear and betray those who trust us and follow us. We lash out at others, resort to envy or jealousy… But, if we are so deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit, and desperate for Him, nothing will deter our courage.

Let us be led by the Spirit, and not by fear, programs, tradition, religion…

Let us linger with the One who breathes life!

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Jesus came to bring new life. (John 10:10)

God’s Victorious Love – Easter Sunday

Because of Jesus ... I Am Free
Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Easter Sunday – God’s Victorious Love
1 Corinthians 5; Ephesians 3: Romans 10

Today is the day we celebrate God’s victorious love! We have been counting down the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday. Today, we reflect and celebrate… Jesus is no longer in the grave! …He lives! …Hallelujah!

This Lent and Easter season, we have been focusing on dying to our selfishness and choosing to live free in Christ. …What things have you died to this Lent in order to live free in Christ? Have you traded in your disappointments, your worries, your fears, sorrows, selfishness, hang-ups, unhealthy and unmet expectations, or unhealthy relationships…? Perhaps you have not yet nailed something to the cross in order to live in Christ’s freedom. (Meaning, something you have not yet trusted Jesus with.) …Something you think you can find satisfaction in apart from Jesus, but only leaves you empty.

Today, we celebrate Christ’s victory! It’s His perfect love that satisfies our hearts. Whatever has in the past kept you awake at night, or has weighed heavy, Jesus died to set you free from! And now, Jesus lives! In your heart, may you hold your hands wide open to give Him what it is you have clung to, what you have felt trapped under, and instead receive His victorious love for you that couldn’t stay nailed to the cross. May you pray, “Jesus I give this to you…, I trust you with…, forgive me for… and I receive your forgiveness and your victory!”

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can say… “Oh death, where is your victory? …Oh death, where is your sting?” Our Good Father gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus, we live not for victory, we live from victory.

(Pray…)

Jesus, because of your resurrection, your Good News is victory! Those who have lived for you and have already died on this earth, rejoice! All things broken will be made knew! You reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. You died for our sins, and have been raised for our freedom. If we confess with our mouths that Jesus, you are Lord of every area of our lives, we are saved. May we choose this day, Lord Jesus, to love and live in your victory!

God, give us your inner strength and power through your Holy Spirit. Christ, be alive in us. I pray that your love may be the ground in which we sink our roots deeply and the only thing we build our lives on. I pray we will be in awe at how wide, long, high, and deep your love is… and that we would walk in all the plans you have for us… to show your victorious love to others around us. I pray this in the name of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, Amen!

(Written originally for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016)

Love’s Journey to the Cross: Good Friday

Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Good Friday
God is love, 1 John 4:9

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Image source: cynthiacavanaugh.com

We have been counting down the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday, as we focus on love’s journey to the cross.

How often have you said you were having a bad day or a bad week? Could any of us say we’ve had a week like Christ did… leading up to the cross? Today, we call ‘Good’ Friday… only because we have a Good Father who didn’t spare his own Son, but handed him over to death for all of us to live in freedom!

Do you TRULY know that you can come to God and receive His unconditional love without doing anything to earn it? …Or are you stuck in trying to be good in order to be loved?

Reflect with me on 1 John 4:9…

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

Let me make it more personal for you…

This is how God showed his love to you: He sent his one and only Son for you, that you might live through him.

He chose to live through a horrific, yet Holy week and give His life on a gruesome, but very Good Friday. How can you and I even begin to live our lives in gratitude?

Because of the cross, He invites us to live in freedom. Freedom living is showing His love to others, like a reflection, …much like the moon reflects the sun’s light. The love we show is always, only a reflection of His great love. Matthew 2 calls us to love God, and then to love others. Our love for others comes from our love from God. God is love and we are His.

Let’s pray…

God, You are not simply loving, you ARE love itself. You ARE the source of all perfect love.

Hate sometimes leaks out of our fleshly hearts. Dry it up, Good Father, and help us to see others the way you see them. Live through us, that we may live in freedom, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Originally written for Good Friday, Mar 25-16)

Love’s Journey to the Cross: 6th Sunday in Lent

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Image source: hobbylobby.com

Love’s Journey to the Cross – Lent Reflections
Col 3:12-14 NIRV and ERV – Unity in Love

We continue to countdown the days of Lent towards Easter Sunday, as we focus on dying to our selves and living free in Christ, …as we focus on love’s journey to the cross…

Reflect with me…

God calls you and I to difficult things.

…like …peace

…and to put on love, …which holds us all together in perfect unity.

Colossians 3…

12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So put on tender mercy and kindness as if they were your clothes. Don’t be proud. Be gentle and patient. 13 Put up with one another. Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. 14 Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.

…quiet your heart and receive the undeserved gift that God loves you unconditionally no matter what you’ve done. God loves you perfectly and endlessly. And then He calls you to share His love even when it’s tremendously difficult…

Ask God where you need more of His compassion, more kindness, more humility, more gentleness, or patience. Ask Him for His Holy Spirit to give you the boldness to love others.

Pray…

God, you freely forgive us. Please give us your peace when we face challenging situations and people. Help us to remember the undeserved grace you show us so that we can be humble and treat others with kindness and patience. Help us remember that we are one part of the whole body of Christ, chosen to be your holy people, …for the world to see and be drawn to you and your perfect love. Fill us with your Spirit to give us peace in all that we say and do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

March 20-16

3 Ways to Pray the Ordinary

Source: Wikipedia / Albrecht Dürer – Praying Hands, 1508

“Many of us today live in a kind of inner apartheid. We segregate out a small corner of pious activities and then can make no spiritual sense out of the rest of our lives. We have become so accustomed to this way of living that we fail to see the contradiction in it. We overcome this modern heresy by praying the ordinary. We do this in 3 ways, 1st by turning ordinary experiences of life into prayer, 2nd by seeing God in the ordinary experiences of life, and 3rd by praying throughout the ordinary experiences of life.”
– Richard J Foster, “Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home”

My Prayer for My Beloved Canada on Her Birthday!

Source: http://www.victoriaexplorer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/livingflag.png

God, I pray for my country of Canada on her birthday today! Thank you for the freedom we enjoy. May we be wise stewards of it, careful to show your love and light to those around us. Protect our leaders, policemen, firemen, doctors and nurses, peacekeepers, teachers, moms, dads, pastors, volunteers… all those given responsibility to care, protect and teach. Thank you for the past year of blessings and we look to your promise that you will never leave us as we move forward and live in light of what’s coming! Open our hearts and minds to know, love and long for your truth and will in our lives, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our freedom so that we could live! Amen.