I’ve been personally challenged and changed during my time in Uganda. Three months is plenty of time to hear the heart and requests of many people to go to the next level of presence and ministry within the country.
I’ve been involved in revival for a long time although for many of those years I missed naming it for what it was. You see, I once believed that revival is marked by a loud, exuberant, ra-ra, experience in the Lord, yet I’ve come to find that revival is a deep, quiet work of the Lord way down inside us. Often times this deep revival results in a move of the Spirit over us that brings in greater silence; we are simply in awe before our Lord, humbled and quiet in Him.
In cultures and settings where loud and exuberant is the norm, when the Lord moves people to silence I know that revival is happening. When prayer clients are brought to sober reality and silence before the Lord I know revival is happening.
For many years now the pattern has been that God brings us at CCIM alongside those He is bringing into new levels of influence and spiritual authority within the body of Christ.
As leaders move forward and beyond themselves in ministry it is imperative that hearts and spirits are both cleansed of past residue and strain and simultaneously filled with the grace and peace of our Lord.
Each one of us has a journey. Each one of us has parts of our journey’s that we would rather leave behind, with pain and shame and regret woven through. How do we overcome these things? Can we move forward and on what basis?
Do you know the value of your journey?
Have you found the gift of your journey?
I don’t think we really get it. Born and raised in the church Jesus Christ has always just been there. And like a well-worn pair of slippers he is comfortable, familiar, easy to get along with.
It has taken me years to realize how radical he was and how radical he intends to be in my life.
But of course radical and evangelical-church-going don’t really go hand in hand.
A few of the rules at evangelical-church-going are this:
- play it safe
- come every Sunday
- look put together
- protect yourself from bad people
- dissasociate with anyone who doesn’t believe as we do
Christ came and from the way he lived life on earth his rules seem to be:
- give yourself away, give your life away
- beware the ones making the rules
- eat with the ones who are outcasts (according to the religious system – they actually were never outcasts)
- make friends with the unlovable
- rebuke the keepers of the rules
On my recent trip to Mozambique my host pastor kept asking me for more rules. At first I had no idea what he was talking about. Yet as the days went by I began to see that his goal was to in fact make rules for the churches that he oversaw.
On day five I gave him this set of rules, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
He didn’t seem to know what to do with this.
On days ten, eleven, and twelve I began speaking about the church leaders at the time of Jesus Christ. They too were intent on rules, on purity, and putting on a good show. And they hated Jesus.
With a passion they hated Jesus. For Christ came and broke all the rules.
Today, how much of what we do is due to the rules we’ve built in and alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Today, is the North American model of church a modern day pharisee?
It’s worth thinking about. It’s worth exploring.
The thing is I remember being very uncomfortable with relationship with Christ, I just wanted rules, “Give it to me in black and white and I’ll get it right.” When we are not comfortable with relationship we will always default to rules.
We like to be in control. We like to be told what to do. We like to play it safe and there is nothing so safe as black and white rule keeping – except that it is also the surest way to die inside.
The problem with rule keeping is that it extracts a irretrievable toll on our emotions, our thinking, our generosity, our understanding alongside each other, and of our very lives.
The churches that I visited in Mozambique had lost their intuition and understanding of God. They just wanted me to tell them how to be, what to do, what not to do.
This isn’t life. This isn’t relationship with God. It’s not walking with Christ or our Holy Spirit.
Just tell us what to do is the cry of hearts that are afraid, unsure, insecure.
Christ came to do away with fear, to bring surety, and encompass us in security.
Surety and security not in terms of our rule keeping, but in terms of the fact that the living God most high has our backs. That we are kept in the embrace of our Lord, we are tucked into the robe of our King, we are covered by the blood of the lamb, we are loved, cherished, sung about, delighted in.
We have new hearts and God’s ways are written there. Trust this. Live this.
And because of this we can swing wide, reach farther, take risks, walk in uncertainty, move through life without having all our ducks in a row.
Before Christ there was rule keeping. There were those on the inside and those on the outside. Before Christ we lived in fear of being found out.
After Christ we’ve been found out but found beautiful and precious, with lives that are never the same again.
Christ came and broke all the rules and the church leaders hated him for it. He turned everything upside down and inside out. He made everything new.
Is He making everything new in your life?
How is Christ changing the face of your religious habits and rules?
Is he turning over any tables in your life?
Because, if he is not, you just might be missing out on the Christ.
I’ve reinvented myself a few times over. From fearful and shy to settled and leading requires a few changes to one’s inner core along the way.
And as I’m looking ahead at 2014 it occurs to me that another reinvention is necessary. While the foundation is well laid within my own life and the life of Capturing Courage International the necessary and expected increase requires my own growth first and foremost.
This is the same for all of us. What has gotten us to today will not get us to the tomorrows that we want. Each new phase of life requires an expansion within our heart and mind. Our internal capacity is, after all, what grows our life.
My own process of inner growth always begins with identifying the parts of myself that I am not happy with. Where am I holding back? What still frightens me? What parts of my life are still not quite working?
I take hard looks at the outward identifiers of relationships, finances, daily habits, health, and more. What do these tell me? What have I been not wanting to see or admit?
And then I begin asking even more questions:
- What might growth look like in this area?
- How might I like that to be?
- What small changes will create big shifts?
- If I made one change in this area that would make a difference in all the other areas what might that one thing be?
Key to all of this is refusing to rush to conclusion.
Rather, we hold the questions open for some days, letting them settle in and through all the layers of our being. Questions like these will tap into our inner gut if we refuse to satisfy them too quickly with our own best wisdom.
We gather all possibilities, all brainstorming is laid out, and we wait.
Visioning then begins. How might I like to see myself? What would that particular shift do for me, how would it impact my life?
And in my mind’s eye I see myself with this new skill or that new confidence. I envision the changes I want to see, I may even feel the changes in my emotions and the way my body reacts to things. I then leave my visioning in my mind’s eye. I back away and allow my mind and will to go after what I want. Emergent energy takes over.
This process is easily 50% of the work alone. It is not so much the precursor to work – it is much of the work. Where most rush to change the outward those who take the time to shift the inner picture will end up with growth that sticks.
This is how I’m spending the last days of 2013 – I’m hanging out with myself in the depths of my own thoughts, in curiosity I am questioning, envisioning, and moving towards my own best future.
And as 2014 moves along I’ll add my own best efforts, due diligence, disciplined hours, healthy habits, and hard work to the mix, and we shall see how things have turned out a year from now.
We are coming to the end of another year and at this time many of us take stock of what this last year has been about and what we might like the next to be.
I’ve never been one for new years resolutions. Making promises to ourselves about what we will or will not do becomes self defeating most of the time. Better to just do it rather than speak about it.
I prefer to envision who I want to be in the coming year. What shifts within my person would I like to see, what new skills might I like to acquire, and if the year could be marked by something, what might that be?
As I’ve been thinking about this for myself, and really doing a review of my last five years, I realize just how many changes there have been in my life these five years and how everything is now settling out.
So as I look ahead I’m not looking at any large shifts anymore, I’m looking ahead to small, steady incremental strengths and for the many new roots to simply grow deeper in every area of my life.
What I’m really going for in 2014 is to fall in love with myself and my life more than ever before; I want to fully drink in the beauty of this life as I know it.
What about you? What might 2014 be for you?