Category Archives: Freedom

This is about freedom.

Freedom Lost in Canada

Have you heard the call to intercede from Trinity Western University for the court hearing in the next few days? This watershed case will determine if Christian schools will have the right to educate professionals, and it begins with a law program.  It reflects the spiritual temperature of the nation and the brink of which we teeter.

Freedom in Canada has been consistently chiseled away and it can be argued that it is already illegal to hold certain Christian values publicly, or speak freely on conviction.

As always, there is spiritual and mental blindness covering the culture distorting reality.  The enemy is the master of deception, and is still pretty good at it after all these centuries.

I too call you to pray, fast, intercede. Gather as a small group and engage in warfare in the spiritual realm as Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 10, saying the weapons we have are supernaturally powerful to destroy strongholds, and arguments and lofty things raised against the knowledge of Christ.

Those of us not directly involved have a stake in this battle and its not fought in human understanding. We have been given authority to disarm the spiritual forces that are behind both the veil of blindness, and the arguments and lofty ideas that have been raised up against the truth.

At the same time, we have been called to count the cost of being a disciple of the “Lamb who was slain”.

Because if the Son of God sets you free, you are free indeed, even when your freedom is stripped away.

Am we willing to radically obey the call of Jesus to lay down our life for the Kingdom, pick up our cross and follow Him, regardless of whether it is legal or not?

You see, so many are already shackled by fear so much that this ruling will not change anything in their lives or walk with Jesus. Fear is a much stronger oppressor than government or regulations or even persecution because it will silence us when nothing else can.

So I pray for freedom for our nation.  I pray for freedom for the people of God for courage to share the hope and love we have without fear, regardless of rulings! I pray God pours out His mercy in response to the prayers of Canadians to preserve protection freedom, legal and spiritual.

I pray fervently that we, the Bride of Christ realize the battle is largely fought on our knees in private and in love and reconciliation in public.  May we never use the gospel as a cudgel to beat people with, tearing down what Jesus died to raise up.

Are you free? Do you feel fear creep into your belly when you are faced with the thought of sharing what Jesus has done for you or loving radically outside your comfort zone?

May you live with the faith and courage of Paul who said “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Please be praying with me for true freedom in every way!

Daniel on Justin Trudeau

During his time in office, Justin Trudeau has garnered differing opinions, many of them negative.  So far I would do most things differently than he has, but reading Daniel, I am convicted by how little I pray for my country’s leader. Perhaps I can learn something from Daniel on how to respond to our government.

Regardless of beliefs, policies or new bills,  our leaders are humans who God loves and is committed to redeeming should they turn to Him.

Daniel would have read this from the prophet Jeremiah:

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”

King Nebuchadnezzer would arguably have won the most vain, violent and unreasonable ruler in his day.  History records some of his conquests, and we know from the Bible that he put people to death who refused to bow and worship the image of himself (I know – talk about conceited eh?)

Yet Daniel worked and prayed diligently for the wellbeing of this king who had dragged him into captivity and God used him mightily in the story of the Hebrew people.

Daniel is relentless in prayer.  Three times a day. Every day. Under his watch, both gentile rulers Nebuchadnezzer and Darius come to recognize Daniel’s God as “God most High.”

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  This is good and pleases God our Saviour,  who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.  He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. (1 Timothy 2:1-6)

We live in a democratic society and I am among the first to encourage people to work for and petition the government for positive change, and thankfully, when we do, we won’t have our heads removed.

But working for change doesn’t excuse me from petitioning the Ultimate Authority on behalf of the one making the policies I see as destructive.  I would argue Divine petition is more effective anyway. What if I begin praying for God’s protection over his mind, and a spirit of wisdom and revelation.  For a heart that turns to Jesus for help and salvation.  For people to come into government who unwaveringly stand for justice and righteousness.

Who knows how the faithful prayers of one person might change the course of a nation’s history or the life of its leader.  If thousands of  people would commit to pray for their government perhaps righteousness and peace would rise up and transform the landscape of a barren country and the heart of the leader.

Daniel did.  The question is; will I?

Pick Your Addiction

Purdue Pharmaceutical company developed and marketed a series of powerful opioids, using false claims, and deceptive and manipulative advertising to sell them to doctors and patients. Today, North Americans use over 80% of the opioids sold worldwide and the opioid crisis has exploded in the last few years.

I cannot believe there is more pain in North America than the rest of the world combined, but I believe it provides a statement to where we are as a culture and the spiritual reality it mirrors.

We were created for addiction.  We are designed to be addicted to our creator.  To long for His presence, to hunger after His voice and His Word.  To desire above all else to walk in His light and depend on His strength and grace.

If we are not exchanging our distress, pain, confusion, disillusion,  weariness, insecurity, you name the condition, with the peace, fullness, and grace of Jesus, we cannot help but turn to something else that not only numbs the pain, but steals the beautiful, intangible things received when dwelling in the throne room of God.

The alternatives the world markets come in countless forms and can be just as addictive, but like an opioid, do not lead to life and healing.

Westerners have an intense dislike for pain and its processes. The thing with opioids is they don’t fix the problem, they only mask the pain and the issue continues unchecked.

John 10:10 is so tantalizing, it is quoted often enough as to be so familiar it fails to truly reach us.

The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I came that you may have life and have it more abundantly!” 

Culture has fed us line of BS when it comes to what life abundant looks like, telling us pain is to be avoided at all costs and consumables lead to happiness.

Jesus is not afraid of pain, nor is He unable to give us the grace we need to face difficult circumstances and come out better for the process.

Romans 8:28 says:

God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew,  He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. 

Paul continues; we may go through tribulation, distress, persecution, disease – but none of them can separate us from the victorious love and abundant life in Jesus.

It is me turning to other coping mechanisms that separates myself from the Life God gives.

Surrendering to the Father’s gentle hand leads to life abundant – unadulterated by the numbing affects of dependance on something we were not made to depend on.

Purdue’s deceptive marketing netted only blood money;we truly have good news to share with a world in pain, and new life now and eternal treasure in sharing it!

Do you have coping habits that take you from the presence of Jesus?  Do you know some one in pain that you can love extravagantly like Jesus?

 

Rejoice in Free Will!

I have been saying Philippians 4:4-8 to myself the last while and have had a second wave of a long coming revelation.

We are given free will to choose.  Anything.  I am thinking of joy in particular today.  Like choosing what I eat gradually changes how I feel and look, choosing the thoughts and emotions I entertain gradually changes my thought patterns and how I view life itself. In fact, brain specialist Dr. Caroline Leaf teaches that what we choose with our will (mind) actually changes the brain itself, which in turn changes our DNA making our body either impermeable to disease, or susceptible to it.

Rejoice in the Lord always again I say, Rejoice!  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.  

Scripture doesn’t let us off the Rejoicing hook when things look grim or when we are having a terrible, no good, rotten, I’m going to move to Australia kind of day.  It simply says ALWAYS REJOICE.

In fact, when Israel faced huge obstacles that seemed insurmountable, they were called to worship and praise God before He acted on their behalf.  Nothing has changed in 2000 and some years.  We are still called to rejoice – especially when that is the last thing we feel like doing.

Yesterday, tired and not feeling great, I struggled to accomplish the simplest of tasks with a teething, gassy baby.  Small problems, I know, but I decided to put my will to work for me rather than just giving into the frustration and impatience that welled up.

I began praising Jesus for the things He has blessed me with and His goodness and faithfulness to us.  I declared my thankfulness and told myself I was choosing to rejoice, and slowly, the tide of frustration was overtaken by the sweet waves of thankfulness.

In Psalm 42:5, David instructs his soul to hope in God and praise Him for His help.

Psalm 35:9 says: “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation.”  

The will to choose is a gift God gave us as His children that brings fulfillment when we use our will to obey and glorify Him.  It is only then we are free to engage in the abundant life Jesus told us He died for.

With the empowering grace of Christ, nothing is unchangeable.  Depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, addiction and every other thing that robs us of the joy of the Lord bows before the will that chooses differently.  One. Day. At. A Time.

Like stepping back and critically assessing  a painting I am working on, I can asses and replace harmful emotions seeking to command my soul, and choose what brings life.  Its not something I can do on my own – as always, I need the Holy Spirit to show me what is good and choose what it true!

May you choose to rejoice today in whatever situation you find yourself.

 

Who Gave You Permission?

As a true blood Canadian, I have a propensity to apologize and worry whether I might be offending or putting some one out.  While this is not inherently bad, the last number of years, Jesus has been relentlessly working to take away the fear of man that stops me from wanting to stand out in obedience to Him.  This flies in the face of my tendency to back down when I sense disapproval from others, making me pretty uncomfortable at times. I am sorry to say, I have not always stood my ground.

Galatians 1:1 says:

I was not appointed by any group of people of any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead. 

Then, a few paragraphs farther:

Obviously I am not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (1:10)

Then:

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.  Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. (1:15)

It is easy to be caught up in the world’s code of established borders and fences around what is perceived as “normal” and “acceptable.”  And while some of us like to venture close to the fence like a wannabe maverick, testing the electric wire, what we don’t know is the grass on the other side can make us truly alive.

I wonder if we realize that like Paul, we are chosen and called for specific tasks God dreamed for us long before we were born.  Inside the world’s invisible fence of permissions, this calling is impossible. Like the fearful cow, afraid of the electric fence, many  never make it to the abundant, fully alive life Jesus planned for us.

Jesus wants so desperately for us to understand that He is the ultimate permission granter; the only one who can qualify and equip us for the tasks He has given us.

If we are waiting for people’s approval, we will never have His.

There is value in hermeneutics, but it can also be our excuse not to step into what we heard Jesus calling us to in the dark solitude of the night watch.

Faith takes the calling into the daylight where others offer challenges and reasonable “outs” and remains steadfast and confident that Jesus will see us through till the end.

Grace is not just what gets us saved – it is the power to finish well day by day.  Divine calling does not make life easy, it makes it significant.

I pray you are never content to live an “ordinary” life inside the fences of society.  In the way you work, play, suffer, rejoice and live, may your life exuberantly shout “Permission granted; fully living with purpose!”

Do you feel qualified for the things God is calling you to? What causes you to hesitate at the fence lines?

 

 

The Green Monster

I have come across the topic of jealousy multiple times the last while and have been meditating on Bible passages that speak of it. The Old Testament talks often of the jealousy of God for His people’s devotion. On the other hand, in the New Testament Paul makes it clear that jealousy and discord have no place in the life of a believer or in the church.

You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (1 Cor 3:3)

So many times I hear believers say “I’m only human.”  While I understand the connotation, I am beginning to believe, like Paul, that it is wrong to live with this philosophy when we have the God of the universe, living inside us, wanting to empower and sanctify us to live differently.

Jealousy can rip apart a church or a family and separate the best of friends, making it one of the go to strategies of the enemy.

But jealousy doesn’t just hurt the person on the receiving end, it is often most destructive to the one who entertains it.

From what I understand from scripture, the only righteous jealousy is toward the relationship between Jesus and us, His bride.  He is jealous for us, and we are to be jealous of a pure relationship with Him.

Never toward another person.

Ever.

Funny how when I am praying about something with some one else, the Spirit of God often points that same thing out in my own life.

I confess, at times I allow insecurity to breed frustration and resentment when some one else succeeds in an area I have worked hard in and feel called to, but have seen little fruit.

Let’s call it like it is.  If I am not celebrating fully from my heart, the success of another, I allow jealousy to incubate.

Jesus sets an example of what it looks like to be so secure in His identity and affection in the Father, that He desires His followers to surpass Him, knowing it will bring glory to the Father.

The only righteous jealousy causes rejoicing when some one comes alive in Jesus, and their gifts and calling are realized, bringing glory to God for what He has given them.  Paul shows this in regards to the church he planted in Corinth:

For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. (2 Cor 11:12)

I think the opposite spirit of jealousy is unselfish loyalty and unity that empowers.  It is a beautiful thing when a group of people live this out.  It is an impossible thing without walking in the empowering love and grace of Jesus.

“Jesus, please give me such a burning love for you that I passionately work to see others succeed in their calling, and celebrate when you are glorified in the lives of others! May I live a life that empowers and points steadfastly to your majesty and goodness.”

Mind the Gap

On our trips to Central Asia, we spent a fair bit of time in China.  For the 2008 Olympics, the airport was completely revamped, and a more sophisticated train system put in.  As the car doors opened, I heard a kind, but heavily accented voice say; “Mine the gap.”

I wondered why you would want to “mine the gap” and thought perhaps it was something you had to be Chinese to understand.

I laughed when later I found out it was fashioned after England’s train system and the kind voice was really saying “Mind the gap” to let you know to watch your step as you departed the train.

As I was reading this morning, I began thinking of the in between times of life when you are on your way from here to there, but not yet here nor there. The in between.

It can be easier to stay the course when in the thick of things than when in transition and not fully engaged.  Sometimes I am good at donning the armour of God and standing firm while in the throes of battle, but am tripped up when I relax my guard in the meantime.   

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it.  (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

When I find myself in the in-between places of life both translations are helpful.  I do well to remind myself to “mind the gap”, being vigilant to keep my armour on and my relationship with the Holy Spirit strong.  I also do well to “mine the gap” as it is times when the natural propensity is to “go easy on ourselves” that God often wants to prepare me for what is coming next.  If I take a spiritual nap, I miss the important preparation and strategic rest God invites me into,  opening myself up to the subtle attacks of the enemy.

Busyness is not synonymous with productivity.

Inactivity is not synonymous with resting.

Like the one day you decide to lounge around in your grubby old pyjamas that your mayor comes to call, the enemy knows the right doors and moments to knock when your guard is down.

Stay alert! Watch out for your enemy the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

The in-between times are some of the most valuable times, but also some of the most difficult times to do well.  My prayer is that we would hear the Holy Spirit whisper “Mind the gap, dear one, and mine the gap!”

What season are you in right now?  Is your armour firmly in place? How is your relationship with the Holy Spirit right now?

Ruination and Redemption of Authority

Many people see authority as negative. For some who have been hurt by people in authority, the very idea of it can be like a thorn in the flesh. There is even a train of thought that Jesus was not very concerned with authority.

I was a bit taken aback when I heard it.   Everything Jesus did was a blatant statement and assertion of authority!  If we miss the display of perfect authority displayed in the life of Jesus, we miss the heart of the gospel!

In the garden God gave man and women the gift of godly authority.  They abdicated this authority in the fall, and the enemy of God has since been convincing people to desecrate it, stealing and perverting it when he can.

Without authority, there is no hope for the world. Let me explain.  Jesus did not come to earth, die and rise again to regain authority for Himself.  He did it to restore His children to their place of authority in the earth.  Everything we do, we are either walking in His authority or abdicating it.

Jesus took authority over the elements, the highest levels of the spiritual realm, and demonstrated how authority in its purity, advocates, elevates and empowers those under it.  Then He gave His followers His authority saying they would do greater things than Him.  Without understanding authority, we will never truly see the Kingdom of God.

In Christ lives the fullness of God in a human body.  So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority! (Col 2:9-10)

Rulers in this world lord over people, and flaunt their authority over those under them.  But among you it will be different.  Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.  Even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.   (Matt 20:25)

The mark of godly authority is that those under it are empowered, protected, elevated and given room to move in their strengths. When this happens, those under godly authority will often outshine those in authority.

We are to walk in authority over darkness, and the strange dichotomy of walking under human authority – even when ungodly – but taking authority over the spiritual realities that shape it, is not taught in many churches.

The crazy thing is, because all authority is under Christ, when we submit to human authority, we come under the authority of Jesus which empowers and protects, and enables us to rule with authority over the spiritual realm while submitting in the physical.

When communities of sons and daughters walk in their God given authority, empowering one another to do greater things than Jesus did, it reaches the world.  May God show us the way!

Do you walk in your spiritual authority?  Do you have issues with human authority? How does understanding the authority of God change that?

Unhealthy Appetites

Last Saturday, as I prepared to teach a health seminar, I was struck by a verse in Isaiah that encapsulated much of what I spoke of.

Why do you spend your money on food that does not give you strength?  Why pay for food that does you no good?  Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.  You will enjoy the finest foods.  Come to me with your ears wide open.  Listen and you will find life. (Isaiah 55:2-3)

As I spoke of “foods” that destroy your body and immune system, I realized that it should come as no surprise our food system has been so compromised.  When an army wants to cripple the enemy, they take out the supply lines.  Cut off the food supply to make the opponent weak, sick, and unable to fight.

Here in the richest part of the world, live the highest number of obese yet malnourished people.  Suddenly I saw the brilliant trickery of our enemy.  If he can keep us lacking energy, weak, sick, and terrified of the cancer epidemic, he can often keep us from the destiny God created us for.

Our food supply is chock full of poison and artificial food.  In fact, the food on most store shelves has very little nutritional value in it – even when slapped with a “health food” label.  Take sugar for example: an addictive substance in most everything – even a small amount suppresses your natural immune system for up to two hours.

Preservatives, synthetic vitamins and minerals our bodies can’t use, dyes, rancid unhealthy vegetable oils, and processed food that cause massive free radical damage in the body are just a start to the list.  This naturally leads to diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases etc, yet billions of dollars go to managing disease, not eradicating the cause.

Everything in the physical is a mirror of the spiritual, and the two interact for us children of God.  Just as many people have no idea the difference between good food and garbage, many of us don’t see the soul food we consume that is empty and creates spiritual free radicals that wear down our souls.

Similarly, in the spiritual realm, we Christians are often more concerned with managing the ‘diseases’ than we are eradicating the roots.  The thing is, it begins with our appetite. Building a healthy appetite is perhaps the best ways to keep both body and soul healthy, and God’s Word tells us how to do that.  Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness.  Seek Jesus first.

What do I hunger for?  Empty pleasure and entertainment?   Deep meaningful conversations that encourage?  The Word of God and His presence? Good clean nutrient dense foods?  Sugary, processed “food”?  When my soul is clean and healthy, the unhealthy appetites of the flesh lose their hold and the Spirit’s fruit begins to grow.  When my body is healthy, I have energy to pursue God’s call in a higher capacity.

Dear friends, I pray that you would prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.  (3 John 1:2)

Are your supply lines compromised?  What decisions are you making that feed the appetites God calls us to develop on a daily basis?

 

From a Refugee’s Eyes

Friends of mine have worked tirelessly to prepare for and make welcome a refugee family from a war torn country.  I am inspired by their love and kindness as they embrace this beautiful family.

It got me thinking how similar this family’s situation is to some one who is brought into the kingdom of God.

Although granted residency, we knew they may not be familiar with much of anything “Canadian” and sure enough, with grace and patience, my friends have spent days showing them how to use money, shop for groceries, and many other things that were new for our family.

When a person comes into the kingdom  of God, they look no different, but are suddenly given a brand new citizenship with new rights, privileges and benefits and hopefully, welcomed open armed by a brand new culture.

New citizens of Heaven must be shown how to think and live in a whole new way.  Heaven culture lives from Love, not fear.   Living in the power and authority of Jesus to overcome darkness is completely foreign to a new citizen.  Things of the Kingdom of Heaven are opposite the kingdom of this world.

What if we view people who are not yet citizens of Heaven as refugees waiting to be invited?  What if we treat new believers as my friends have our new family?  We don’t expect them to know our culture, but we are willing to take them by the hand, and in love, show them how to live like a citizen of the Kingdom.

Many hours have been lovingly invested in making our family feel at home and giving them the tools and knowledge they will need to thrive.  Why would it be different with a new citizen of Heaven?

Many Canadians have no grid for people suffering from war, famine, poverty and oppression.  Fearful, many would rather stay in comfortable circles rather than reaching out to those living in pain and suffering.

Until we have  our hearts broken over the pain and suffering of those outside the Kingdom, what will motivate us to invite them in? What will inspire us to invest our time, love and resources to help them adjust?

Countless hours went into preparing a home for our family.  Many people were praying for them months before they arrived, and much preparation and thought went into their welcome.  We did not know what their response would be or if they would welcome a relationship with us in return, but the work went on regardless.

I wonder if every citizen of Heaven invested this kind of love and effort into bringing one person to citizenship in the Kingdom of God what our communities and churches would look like? And in the welcoming, we too learn, grow, and are deeply enriched!