Covering in the Lord

What is ‘covering’ in the Lord, how does it work, what are the misconceptions about it, how might we walk in greater covering?

These are questions that many have attempted to answer and I am going to do the same today. To begin with I share a bit of my own journey, for it is here in my experience that my theology of covering has been thoroughly threshed.

Nearly five years ago I had a church leadership team tell me this, “You cannot have God’s blessing, you cannot have his favour, you need to come under our oversight or you will lose all influence, all ministry, and you will not have the covering of God.”
Continue reading Covering in the Lord

So Much to Give

I am constantly amazed by the connections of my past experiences with the requirements of my current work.

About twelve weeks ago I was requested by one of our indigenous pastor families in India a resource and Biblical references to assist them with the men in their congregation. Here is the exact request:

“Sister I need a study or a sermon on husband and wife relationship according to Bible or marital life with Christ because in our church we have many broken families. Women are hard working and their husbands are fully drunkards and they beat their wives like anything. Kindly I need a sermon like how they can change their husbands…..”

It took me some time to finish this material. I worked on it in bits and parts, due mostly to the necessity to write in the Spirit of our Lord, to check and double check what I was saying and its accuracy against scripture, and in terms of truly being in service to men who are caught in patterns of spousal abuse.

Continue reading So Much to Give

Mark Your Calendar

On March 8th the Canadian Bible Society is hosting their annual International Women’s Day Tea and I am honoured to be speaking. If you are in the Greater Vancouver area you will not want to miss this time of fellowship and encouragement, laughter and inspiration.

Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door and all proceeds and donations during the event will go towards the Good Samaritan Program for HIV/AIDS infected people in Tanzania, Congo, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

Grab a girlfriend or two and join us as we celebrate women around the world.

Women s Day Tea 2014 invite-page-001[9]Women s Day Tea 2014 invite-page-002[1]

Open Doors

The Lord really began telling me about the work I was to do in the year 2000. And as I slowly came to believe and trust that this was indeed from God I entered into a process of waiting. Way back in 2002 I have in a journal entry, ‘the time is now, pray that the way would be opened.’ In 2004 another journal entry records, ‘pray that the doors would be opened for all over the world do I choose to use you.’ In 2008, ‘pray that the doors would be opened.’

And so I entered into the longing and the waiting and the praying alongside these directions of the Holy Spirit. I spent my time investing in my own inner healing and wholeness, for I knew that if these prophecies and the accompanying visions were true I would need to be a clean vessel for the Lord. Come forward to 2010 and our Capturing Courage team prayer times recorded, ‘pray that the doors would be opened.’

Well, the doors are open. Internationally speaking its been just over two years since the doors opened and we couldn’t now shut them if we wanted. I have invitations to 11 countries on three continents. Most of those countries have multiple invitations representing hundreds of churches and a number of Bible Schools.

The doors are so open that we cannot go through all of them at once. Most invites are followed by about 2 years of long-distance communication and relationship building before I ever arrive at that particular place,  and every time I do travel the invites become multiplied to that country.

The doors are so open that we have now entered into more waiting. I recently wrote about the power of longing (which is closely tied with waiting, you can read it here), and yet I hardly have the words to speak of the incredible investment made in the wait. I feel I am barely poking at the significance each time I write about it.

When I was young I was a ‘I’d like it yesterday thank-you very much’ kind of person. I like to say I’m a recovered driver-personality. I am now a firm believer of waiting and I encourage leaders and would-be-leaders to enter into waiting whole-heartedly and with faithfulness.

This duo of longing and waiting is in many, many ways the work. Really. Longing and waiting IS THE WORK. And I realize now when I travel and as I write and encourage and equip even over email and Facebook and phone calls that this is the harvest season for me. The multiplication of the waiting has already, and is still continuing, to take place.

All those years back then when I could hardly see my hand in front of my face for all the waiting on the Lord I was doing (many personal things as well as CCI), I never imagined that I was in fact and in that faithfulness doing the work. But I was. Today, we are simply reaping the harvest.

I’m so glad I didn’t go around the waiting. Thank-you Lord for keeping me faithful.

It’s interesting though that the ones closest in during those waiting years seem to have missed the significance of them. To them I was just going through difficulty and trial. Even the ones who knew of the visions and prophecies spoken over my life, even a few who did the prophesying, cannot believe it today.

And I think this is so true of all of us. We see waiting and we see the outward difficulties and we miss the work going on under the surface. We aren’t able to realize that faithfulness produces its own harvest. That staying the course alongside our Lord is an investment in great things to come. God looks at the heart after all, we on the other hand, seem to have trouble doing this.

Today, thought its a bit different, I am still waiting. Where will I go in 2014? I don’t know. I know my first trip will be back to Uganda, but when, what month? I don’t know. And I can’t know when I will know. What about the other places and people pressing in on my heart, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Burundi, Northern Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana?

Names I’ve come to love: Timothy, Ravi, Ravindra, Esther, Alex, Charagh, Philip, Michael, Caliph, Walter, Daniel, Innocent, Patrick, Elizabeth, John, Irene, Edward, Praise, Evan, Joyce, Victor, Whisky, Edison, June, Annet, Grace, Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Mildred, Swen, Pascal, Lydia, Scholastic, Geoffrey, Nicholas, Mehtab, Anthony, Peterson, Kigozi, David, Alex, Mamma Bosa, Edith, Aaron, Nelson, Godwin, Bena, Elijah, Paul, Nabeel, Mathias, Honey, Jacob, Anniebel, Stephen, Isabel, Daniel, Camota, Vologa, Huda, John, Dombay, Paul, Isaiah, Lino, Rui, Armando, Oondo, (please forgive me if I missed you).

I’m waiting on the Lord. It’s really hard work. Every day I bear the load of it and invest of the longing alongside it. Yet gladly and with great privilege.

Not for myself any longer, but for those that the Lord chooses to touch and heal and make glad. My job is to show up. The Lord does the rest.

What has become very amazing is that I’m not waiting alone. Weekly I receive emails and phone calls reminding me that they are waiting for me. Hundreds of people in multiple communities are praying and praying and praying for me to travel to where they are. How many full days and services have been set aside over the past couple years for the express purpose of praying for me and my journeying I have no idea. I just keep hearing about them.

It’s an amazing thing. And I get it now. I’m not the only one waiting. Rather, we wait together. And in this I am convinced that the compounding investment of our communal waiting will bring about the Kingdom of God in mighty and powerful transformations of lives and leaders and churches within the body of Christ.

We wait on you Father. Together.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:15

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3

Amen and amen.

Serving Up A Feast

NOTE: This is a reblog from our Capturing Courage Website and is the basic template of a message I gave a number of times 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

On the Inside

“Thank-you for coming on the inside, for living among us, travelling as we do, eating as we eat.”

This came from one of the pastors after nearly two weeks of travel and ministry amongst ten churches spread over a wide area during my recent trip to Mozambique.

I am convinced that being on the inside is the only way to be in service to others.

By the time I’d arrived in Mozambique (after over 30 hours of travel) I already had a few clothes that needed washing. And as we were heading out for more travel within another day I took it upon myself to wash my clothes.

I was staying in a guest house that had running water and so it was fairly easy to in fact wash my own clothes. I had even brought some twine from home and so managed to hang them to dry.

The Mamma’s (the wives of all the gathering pastors) giggled and ooh’d and aah’d over this clothes washing. But later in the day Daniel came to me with a sincere apology from them that they’d not washed my clothes.

I was struck. My first misstep of the trip was washing my own clothes. Here I thought I was doing a favour but instead I was heaping shame and embarrassment. I made sure not to make that same mistake again. Rather, from there on I dutifully handed over my dirty laundry to Mamma.

Coming on the inside is an exercise in humility and requires great ease with one’s self. It requires trust in the human spirit and in the Lord’s direction and provision found through others.

In Luke 10 Jesus sends out the seventy-two and instructs them to enter towns, to stay with those who will keep them, to eat what they are fed, and to leave their peace to those who can receive it.

Right from the start of Capturing Courage’s international launch this has been the conviction of how we do what we are called to do. We do not enter a town and set up camp and say, “here we are come and see the great stuff we have for you” rather we come to visit and minister from the inside out.

Before ministering, before blessing, before encouraging, before healing, before wisdom, before prophecy, before praying, before anything, we arrive tired and in need of some basic care.

“Where is the toilet?”

And once some food is prepared we simply receive the hospitality afforded with due thanks. We shake many hands who have arrived to welcome. We sit and receive the stares of many who are intrigued and so delighted we are there. We smile our own greeting time and again.

We might then ask, “May I please lay down and sleep a bit?”

And everywhere we go, each place visited it is the same. Sit where I am sat, eat what I am given, smile and shake hands and affirm that ‘yes indeed!’ my own excitement of being there does match their own. We are on common ground and in good company together.

I am observed tired and hungry. I am walked to the toilets and given showers. I am cared for and fed. All before I ever open my mouth to share anything I might have from the Lord. First things first after all.

And then, by the time I am standing in front as the welcomed minister they’ve already seen that I am simply human like them. They’ve seen that I am as dependant on them as they might be on what I am about to speak.

The preaching and the praying, the wisdom and the prophetic words, are simply one small portion of the work as I travel. Perhaps 20%. The other part is in fact the coming on the inside.

It is the travelling as they travel, bouncing along in the back of trucks over rutted rattle-your-teeth-loose roads. It is sleeping at the train station just as many others are doing. It is being packed onto a motorbike with a couple others to get the last distance to our destination. It is making my butt fit into the eight-inch space left for me in the back of the bus (minivan packed with 20 people).

And what amazes me is how prepared I am for all this and how much I absolutely love it. The fellowship and camaraderie found on the inside is like nothing I can adequately describe. In this the Lord ministers to me profoundly. My own heart that has experienced so much loss and dysfunction relishes in these simple interactions that – thank God – are saved from pretence.

And I think this is what must mark any of our work and callings. Where are we simply glad to be on the inside? Where does our love extend past the inconveniences and difficulties?

You know, the Lord said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. Where might that be for you?

For myself it has taken many years to get here. Primarily because it took this many years to eliminate the self-doubt, the lies I had believed, and the disqualifications that I held between myself and this work.

I still pinch myself at the amazing privilege and gift of this work.

Where might this be for you? What work are you called to that once you enter into it isn’t even work but rather a saving of self and deep fellowship and ministry to others?

But I suspect these are the wrong questions. For until we get there we cannot recognize this place. Rather, I will ask these questions:

What is the biggest disqualification that you are holding between yourself and what the Lord might call you to?

What are the deepest failures and regrets of your life? Where is your loss the most profound?

To what have you had the most sympathy, to whom are you drawn to help? Where do you keep tripping over yourself in your eagerness to assist? Where have you been most rejected in your attempts to help?

The answer to these questions is the same answer to those other questions.

Begin systematically and boldly removing the lies and the disqualifications that you so gladly hold up for all to see.

Put them down and begin the process of entering into work made just for you.

Ordinary with an Extraordinary God

Every ministry trip that I take is the same. The Lord begins to prepare me some weeks in advance. I feel the glory and presence of God pressing upon me, filtering through me, washing me.

The journey to the country of destination is bathed in peace and quiet. I am not an extroverted person and the thirty-plus hours of travel prepare me with gifts of silence and simply being before my God.

The deep work to come requires a pause in the normal, a stepping back from interaction, and a garnering of inner reserves. This trip to Mozambique was no different.

It is a deeply subjective process. Known mostly to myself, the changes I feel on the inside of me are deep and preparatory, yet perhaps unrecognizable to anyone looking on.

At the end of each journey it is a process in reverse. It was my last Sunday in Mozambique and we were in Muda. I’d preached the morning sermon and the singing was bookending our time.

In the beauty of praise and the presence of our Lord I went to my knees and began to feel the glory and power of God leave me. It is a subtle thing, but I recognize it by my own tears and worship of thanksgiving to the Lord I can feel myself becoming simply Cyndy once more.

This happens every trip. Every time. God rests heavily on me for a specific time and purpose, and then eases off and allows me to simply be myself. It marks the end of specific ministry and declares a well-done on the time.

My next two days, Monday and Tuesday I’d already set aside as just time for me. We have been heavily travelling for two full weeks and we were all exhausted. I knew I needed the time to rest and to do nothing before the long and equally exhausting trip home.

Monday I spent at the house in my shorts and a sloppy t-shirt. Shocking everyone with the whiteness of my legs I simply didn’t care. It was hot, I was tired, and I simply sat and listened to music on my iPod all day long.

God rested around me, we sat in comfortable silence, wept in undeclared longing, visited in gentle waves of compassion for each other. It was a beautiful day.

Tuesday I woke able to write. And so for some hours began telling the stories of my time there, catching with words movements of the spirit almost too deep to catch. It will in fact take me some time to share it all.

That afternoon after I’d eaten my lunch I let Pastor Daniel know that I was heading for a nap. And though I had been very explicit in my desire and plan for Monday and Tuesday to be just for me, he informed me that he had planned a trip to his church and then the hospital that afternoon to pray for someone.

I was taken aback. Yet quickly recovered. I said ‘No’, I’m not going.

“You knew Daniel that I was taking these two days for resting and nothing. I’m not going.”

And as I settled into my nap it became clear to me that the real issue was that I had made a commitment to myself. One I must keep if I ever intended to be able to keep my commitments to others.

So I kept my commitment to myself that day. Said ‘No’ to the noble, righteous, religious, opportunity to pray for someone.

Basic principles of long-term ministry are this:

1. Come under the anointing and glory of God as he chooses to descend on us. Cooperate with the Spirit of our Living God.

2. Enter the work fully and effectively as long as that particular work is there. Once the presence of the Lord eases off, do not add to the work. Rest in the work accomplished. More is not always better.

3. Keep our commitments. This begins with the commitments to self. Do not underestimate the importance of integrity with oneself as that which empowers us to keep our integrity with others.

4. Remember, always remember, that we are ordinary people with an extraordinary God. We are not the Christ. We are not the Saviour. All good things are not ours to do.

To sum it up:

Work in sync with the Holy Spirit and not in tune with our own best thoughts and wishes and desires. Good works are only those that amplify the heart and voice of God. It is just so easy to go beyond the explicit direction of our God.

Restraint and wisdom must go hand in hand in all things.

My journey’s home are marked the same each time as well. Hours and hours of silence, introspection, resting. The 30-plus hours of travel home are exactly what I need.

I don’t talk to a soul, other than those I order food from, or to say to my seat mate on the airplane, “Excuse me, I need to get out to use the washroom.”

My work is done. I need not prolong it. God doesn’t ask me to. For he is taking good care of me too.