Spiritual Strength Training, Part 3: Working Out Our Spiritual Muscles

Spiritual Strength Training, Part 3

Wendy Backlund

 

“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete” (Romans 12:2).

PART THREE: Working Out our Spiritual Muscles

As I inched my way further along in my weight loss journey, God ended up saying, “I want you to stop dieting and for the next three or four months I want you to begin to make declarations that it’s easy for you to lose weight.” I would imagine and declare things like, “My body’s a fat burning machine,” and, “It’s easy for me to lose weight.” As much as I’d like to report that He just magically made it disappear, I did have this divine convergence where I discovered, after my daughter suggested I see a holistic doctor, that I was allergic to so many of the foods I was eating which was a large contributing factor in why I couldn’t lose weight. He put me on a special diet. And it worked! My success didn’t mean I didn’t have to do something different (often, we still need to partner with God by changing our actions), it just meant that before I did it, I had to actually imagine and believe something different. Hope began to rise up and a confident, joyful expectation that good was coming soon became my renewed belief system – and that is when the change happened.

God told me once that I was no longer to create my identity from my past but from my future. I was to be like children who looked to their parents for their potential and abilities. So instead of getting my identity from my current state, I had to focus on what I was becoming. In order to live from our future and receive the full benefit of how God created us, we need to take advantage of the power of imagination. We can do this by allowing God to paint a picture of our future as a supernatural being. See yourself enslaved to righteousness, successful in everything you do, full of favor, wisdom, power, and confidence. Imagine yourself able to change atmospheres and seeing sickness flee from the glory of God that you carry. In other words, look at your Heavenly Father and “see” your future.

We all say, "Amen" when someone starts taking care of themselves, going to the gym, and lifting weights because they want to strengthen their body. Yet God says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10). We need to have a discipline of joy in our lives. If you want longevity and health, spiritually and emotionally, you have to make joy a priority.

When you first learn to lift weights you don’t say, “This feels fake! I tried to lift 300 pounds and it didn’t work!” And yet we tend to think, “When I laugh at lies, it feels fake.” No, it’s just rusty! It’s a muscle to build. I know this because I had to work it out in my own heart first. When I was laughing, I would often laugh on the inside until God said to me, “Wendy, there’s no health benefits to laughing on the inside. That’s why you’re weak and tired all the time.” So, I got serious about it, and still to this day when I catch myself laughing on the inside, He will remind me, “Laugh out loud!”

Renewing our mind isn’t optional when it comes to living a victorious, powerful life. It’s spiritual strength training that tears down strongholds and develops the discipline needed to continually walk in the truth of who God has called each and every one of us to be!


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ABOUT WENDY BACKLUND

Wendy Backlund, along with her husband Steve, is from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Wendy and Steve have a unique ministry that ignites hope, passion, joy, victorious mindsets and healthy relationships. They were senior leaders of renewal churches from 1991 to 2008 (Round Mountain, Nevada, and Weaverville, CA). The Backlunds travel regularly ministering to churches and leadership teams. Wendy has a passion for setting Christians free from their past and empowering them in their walk with Christ. She is a revelatory speaker, author, and teacher, enabling people to see life from a supernatural perspective.

Learn more about Wendy and her teaching at wendybacklund.com.

For more resources from Wendy, click the links below:

Three Ways to Approach Your Days Ahead

Three Ways to Approach Your Days Ahead

by Steve Backlund

It’s that time again. We’re all too familiar with it – the Christmas festivities are over; the New Year has been ushered in; and now momentum is being built and schedules are ramping up to see our goals for the year established. Each of us has things to do in the days and weeks ahead. There are meetings to attend, assignments to fulfill, secret place times with the Lord to be prioritized, and various other happenings. How we think and talk about these future events will dramatically impact the quality of our experience and our capacity to bring our best in every situation.

Here are three alternative ways we can approach our schedules in the coming days, weeks, and months:

1) With Foreboding and Worry – Hope is the confident, joyful expectation that good is coming. Foreboding is an expectation that bad is coming. Worry is imagining life without God, rehearsing a future without expecting God’s promises to manifest themselves in powerful ways.

Just as meteorologists seed clouds to bring about rain, I used to seed the clouds of my future with pessimism. I would think and say things that reflected inferior beliefs. For instance, if I had a meeting with a challenging person, I would release dread into the spiritual clouds concerning that meeting. This lack of victorious thinking hindered how much God could do.

The truth is, God is always bigger than any circumstance, He always turns up, and He is continually looking to establish His grace and power in every context. When we align our beliefs with this powerful reality, it not only enables us to partner with His higher perspectives but it also makes a way for us to influence and empower those around us to do the same.

2) With Passivity – When we are passive, we have a “whatever will be, will be” attitude. We are basically emotionally neutral to an event, meeting, or to a new day. We don’t have any big expectations in the positive or negative. We believe faithfulness is simply showing up.

When we allow ourselves to passively approach our days ahead, it’s not long before we often find ourselves established in a cycle of allowing life to “happen to us,” rather than positioning ourselves in a way where we “happen to life.” We are God’s empowered people. He wants us engaged and proactive in everything we do. Having high expectations isn’t simply wishful thinking – it’s taking dominion over every circumstance, taking ground where the Lord has given us influence, and joining our “Yes” with heaven’s to see His Kingdom established in mighty ways.

3) With Hope and Faith – This is the highest level of preparation and approach to engaging with what is in front of us to accomplish. Just as I mentioned earlier, hope is the confident, joyful expectation that good is coming. Faith believes something is happening in the positive, even when it is not seen. Those who function in these mindsets understand that faithfulness is not a matter of simply showing up, but in how we think before we show up (and how we think while we’re there). They positively seed the clouds of their future through thoughts and declarations like, “Tomorrow is going to be a great day,” or “This meeting is going to change the world.”

Expectation is another word for faith. When Jesus said in Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith, let it be to you,” it could be translated, “According to your expectation, let it be to you.” I don’t want to be in the habit of expecting negative things to happen, or even nothing at all – I want to stir up the expectation to believe great things will occur in the days ahead. Diligently establishing this as our automatic approach to life will create greater inner victory in us, and will bring increasing breakthrough to those around us.

Join with me in declaring these higher truths over the next 30 days and see how powerfully hope, faith, and expectancy can transform your mind, heart and circumstances:

  1. God always shows up!

  2. Great things are happening even when I can’t see it!

  3. As I engage with God’s higher perspectives, difficult circumstances are being transformed!

  4. I make great decisions!

  5. I experience victory and God’s goodness every day – in my life and in the lives of those around me!

ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcast, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

Spiritual Strength Training, Part Two: Process, Progress, and Motivation

Spiritual Strength Training, Part Two

by Wendy Backlund

“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete” (Romans 12:2).

Click here to read Part One of this three part series from Wendy Backlund on training your spirit.

Part two: Process, Progress, and Motivation

Upon embarking on this journey of renewing my mind with truth, God began to show me how often I was doing things in the wrong spirit, with no faith. In fact, I was operating out of the opposite of faith. I would continually live a life of sacrifice and obedience to what God was saying to do, but my belief system was never at work. I worked for God, but I wasn’t partnering with Him. I would say things like, “Okay, you want me to be a teacher and speak, but I’ll just prove to you that it won’t work, that I can’t speak,” instead of attaching faith to it. Now don’t assume I’m telling you this is always easy – we’ve been working on our belief systems for twenty years! Some strongholds that need to be broken down will crumble as quickly as they were erected, others may need much more time, and that’s okay. Be okay with the process; God’s okay with process. Just notice the milestones, notice the improvement, and keep going!

Renewing your mind is a lifelong commitment. You never stop learning when it comes to discovering and walking out God’s truth for your life. Even a year ago – after preaching this message all over the world, all the time – I still had strongholds to do with a particular belief system that needed breaking down. When we first started traveling, I put on a lot of weight. It finally got to the point where I decided, “I’m going to lose this weight!” I’m naturally a researcher, so I looked up women my age and how to lose weight, and all it did was convince me that women my age can’t lose weight. The “experts” all said it was partly because of our lifestyle, and partly because of a metabolism issue, mixed in with what seemed like a million other reasons! But even then I would say, “I’m determined – I’m going to lose weight,” so I started dieting and was hardly eating anything and still not losing an ounce. I was totally frustrated and felt like I should be dead from lack of food, when finally God said, “Wendy, why are you trying to do something you don’t believe you can do?” And that’s when the penny dropped.

He said, “When you try to do something you don't believe you can, you are actually opposing yourself.” Our subconscious can actually cause resistance and we end up sabotaging ourselves with our belief systems. He said, “The more inner unity you have, the more powerful you are.”  Think about what it’s like when you hear a note that has such perfect frequency that it touches your heart and resounds throughout your entire being. That’s what we want to do with the Word of God; we want every promise, everything He says, to come into such inner unity that it continually resounds within us. Years ago when Bill Johnson used to come to Nevada in the 90s and speak, people would come up to Steve and me and say, “Did you hear what Bill said? That was so powerful; it rocked my world!” And I would think to myself, “We said that! How come it didn’t rock your world when we said it?!” It wasn’t until years later when God started speaking to me about inner unity that He brought that to my mind and said, “Remember when that happened? It was because Bill had greater inner unity with what he was saying, and the more inner unity you have with a promise the greater weight and authority it carries when you speak it.” That’s the goal of the Word – we don’t want to memorize it, we want to have inner unity with it.

One of the greatest tools that helped me to establish greater inner unity was learning how to celebrate my progress. God had me focus on what my thoughts were doing to my body which made me realize I would lose motivation every time I entertained condemning thoughts like, “Oh no, I’m back to where I started. I knew I hadn’t changed.” You can literally feel the energy draining out of your body when you think like that, but when you look at it differently and say, “Oh wow, I did stumble and fall, but I didn’t stay down as long this time!” and you celebrate your progress, it actually motivates you to keep changing! In response, God said, “I only want you to have thoughts that motivate you to keep changing. Get rid of all the thoughts that make you want to quit.” Our thoughts are meant to be motivators, and when we allow them to do just that, they become our greatest friend rather than our biggest foe.


Recommended Resources by wendy


ABOUT WENDY BACKLUND

Wendy Backlund, along with her husband Steve, is from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Wendy and Steve have a unique ministry that ignites hope, passion, joy, victorious mindsets and healthy relationships. They were senior leaders of renewal churches from 1991 to 2008 (Round Mountain, Nevada, and Weaverville, CA). The Backlunds travel regularly ministering to churches and leadership teams. Wendy has a passion for setting Christians free from their past and empowering them in their walk with Christ. She is a revelatory speaker, author, and teacher, enabling people to see life from a supernatural perspective.

Learn more about Wendy and her teaching at wendybacklund.com.

For more resources from Wendy, click the links below:

5 Reasons to Cut Negativity Out of Your Life

5 Reasons to Cut Negativity Out of Your Life

by Steve Backlund

Igniting Hope’s annual Lent 40 Day Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast begins on March 1. Can you believe this is already our fourth year hosting this life-changing event?! Add to that an exciting new format, and we know this is going to be the best Negativity Fast yet. Our team can’t wait to see the breakthrough and momentum that will be established in your lives, simply because of your willingness to say “Yes” to this exciting process of exchanging negativity for positivity!

Here are five reasons why we believe embarking on a negativity fast is going to be the best decision you make all year:

It Gives God Something Powerful to Work With in Your Life –

Few things are guaranteed in life, including the promise that your life will be radically changed by doing the fast/feast, but what I can tell you is your choice to participate in it exponentially increases the chances of it happening! As we give God something like this to work with in our lives, He has the habit of supernaturally multiplying it for His glory and our benefit. Rest assured, God will use your yes even if you initially feel ill-equipped to succeed. He is the great empower-er; He’s not waiting on us to impress Him, He’s simply looking for surrendered hearts and minds through which He can do His best work.

It is An Investment in Your Future –

Any partnership entered into with God, and any investment made in bettering ourselves, will always attract a positive return. Maybe the option of attending a ministry school is off the table in this season in your life. Maybe you aren’t able to sign up for those workshops or conferences you’ve been wanting to attend. No matter the reasons, whether it be financial, time, or various other constraints, you can treat the Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast as a “mini school” that will equip you with truths and tools you need to impact your future in a positive way. Even if you are in such a school or season of intentional equipping, our fast/feast will only serve to bless, reinforce, and add value to what God is already doing in your life!

It Will Address the Primary Root of Your Negative Emotions and Negative Circumstances –

What we believe ultimately impacts what we experience. If we try to change our circumstances without changing our beliefs, the chances of experiencing long lasting change will be unlikely. As we address the lies contributing to our negative emotions, we increase our inner victory, and ultimately see greater breakthrough in our circumstances (Romans 12:2; 3 John 2).

It Will Give You an Opportunity to Transform the Beliefs of Others –

Inviting others to engage in rising to new levels of freedom and transformation, and seeing that played out in their lives in ways big and small, is one of the most rewarding roles we could ever play. Over the past four years, we have seen many people embark on the fast/feast together; some even lead entire groups in fasting negativity and pessimism, and then feast on truth and biblical optimism. As you seek to draw others into this experience, you will be helping people to address the real issues in their lives, significantly impacting the trajectory of their futures. You will also strengthen your own experience by learning to communicate the fast’s truths to different types of people.

It’s A Small Commitment With a Big Return –

Whether you choose to make the most of the free level or you take advantage of the highest level with video appointments with one of our beliefs trainers, we believe you will find that the small time commitment every day will make a big impact! We have received countless testimonies over the years from people who found breakthrough in self worth and love, walking by faith, and even in employment and finances (click here to read testimonies from years past). Your breakthrough is closer than you think! In fact, it’s waiting on the other side of negativity and fear. Accelerated transformation by the renewing of your mind is yours for the taking. Fast lies, feast on truth, and ignite hope in 2017, and experience for yourself all that God can do with your yes!

You can learn more about this year's fast here, or sign up by clicking the level images below.


ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcast, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

Spiritual Strength Training, Part 1: Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Circumstances

Spiritual Strength Training, Part One

by Wendy Backlund

“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete” (Romans 12:2).

Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Circumstances

I used to assume that because I was a Christian, it automatically meant I operated out of hope. I was wrong; it was really just a theology of hope. Then, when Steve and I realized the connection between hope and the renewing of our minds, after years of thinking we were powerless victims to our circumstances, our lives literally began to transform before our eyes. Fast forward two decades and we can unequivocally say Romans 12:2 actually works – it transforms you, it transforms your circumstances! Developing a lifestyle of uncovering lies that have become strongholds in your life and replacing them with God’s truth about those circumstances is one of the most valuable processes you will ever invest in.

If the truth sets you free, then a lie will restrict you. Truth empowers you. So the question is, is what you’re believing empowering you? Or do you constantly feel like a mouse on a wheel, always running yourself ragged but never feeling like you’re getting anywhere? We were never supposed to be victims to our circumstances; our role is to create a mindset where we actually begin to do the works of God, naturally. Don’t try to do the works of God without changing what you believe, because you’ll get tired. I’ve tried it as a leader, I’ve tried to look like a good Christian and it was hard work!  But when I started  focusing on what I believed, I did something different. The first question most of us ask when something isn’t working is, “What am I doing wrong?”  The bigger question we should be asking ourselves though is, “What am I believing when I’m doing it?”

Is it possible that life is more than survival, performance, or whatever we have narrowed it down to in order to feel like we are successfully living? Yes, it is! God wants us to take every thought captive that exalts a person, circumstance, or emotion over God’s promises. He isn’t against our hopeless thoughts because they disgust Him, but because He knows that our thoughts become fortresses and carry a force in the unseen realm that affect our everyday lives.

God isn’t against our hopeless thoughts because they disgust Him, but because He knows that our thoughts become fortresses and carry a force in the unseen realm that affect our everyday lives.
— Wendy

I used to work up the emotion of hope for hopeless circumstances because I thought it would prove that I trusted God. Every time I felt hopeless, I would try to subdue the emotion and take it captive. It was a never-ending battle of forcefully trying to subdue hopelessness. If we continue to force ourselves to have hope or “feel loved” without first changing what we truly believe, we will live in a constant battle within ourselves. We will be in a perpetual state of subduing ourselves because “forcing” the emotions of hope and faith is temporary! We do not want to subdue emotions, but we want to change the thoughts (strongholds) that are producing our emotions. We must change the beliefs that govern our emotions.

If we can build negative strongholds that exalt themselves against the truths of God, then we can build positive strongholds around the knowledge of His goodness, power, and love. We can intentionally develop healthy inner strongholds for our identity, acceptance, and abilities. How do we do this? The answer is simple. Let’s take the belief that we are “favored by God and man” as an example. To build this belief as a “stronghold” in our minds, we first need to ask God to reveal every thought that would resist this belief and ask Him to reveal the truth in each of those areas. Then, we need to consciously look for scripture and circumstantial proof that indicates we do have favor. We need to rehearse and declare them until a new stronghold is erected.

By taking truths that we intellectually believe, and making them into strongholds through declaring, meditating and receiving revelation, we can be sure that new, healthy responses and emotions will automatically follow!

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this Spiritual Strength Training series with Wendy.


spiritually strength train with steve & wendy –

The Negativity Fast & Positivity Feast


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ABOUT WENDY BACKLUND

Wendy Backlund, along with her husband Steve, is from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Wendy and Steve have a unique ministry that ignites hope, passion, joy, victorious mindsets and healthy relationships. They were senior leaders of renewal churches from 1991 to 2008 (Round Mountain, Nevada, and Weaverville, CA). The Backlunds travel regularly ministering to churches and leadership teams. Wendy has a passion for setting Christians free from their past and empowering them in their walk with Christ. She is a revelatory speaker, author, and teacher, enabling people to see life from a supernatural perspective.

Learn more about Wendy and her teaching at wendybacklund.com.

For more resources from Wendy, click the links below:

Four Overrated Attributes of Success

Four Overrated Attributes of "Success"

by Steve Backlund

"So it was, when they came, that (Samuel) looked at Eliab and said, 'Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!' But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (1 Samuel 16:6-7).

Consider this: Society is often relentless in setting the standard for what "success" looks like in our culture. Beauty, popularity, and wealth are three standards that automatically come to mind, and the monumental influx of social media that streams into our daily lives on a moment-by-moment basis not only supports but also perpetuates these standards at an unprecedented rate. But what if there was another way to define success? God's measurement for success is different than man's. This week at Igniting Hope, we have decided to unpack four attributes that seem to define success in our culture, but all too often miss the mark:

Good Looks –

Our society's worship of beauty and the value it places on being handsome or sexy creates unhealthy emotional stumbling blocks and mindsets for many. Comparison begins to creep in and soon our worth begins to get wrapped up in conforming to counterfeit versions of other people. Certainly it is not wrong to want to look our best, but being obsessively consumed or preoccupied by our appearance will rob us of committing time and energy to our spirituality, character, and relationships. When we prioritize these as primary focuses in our lives, they become keys for us to live as fulfilled people where true beauty radiates from the inside out. That is the ultimate success!

Number of Followers –

Whether it is the size of our churches, how many Facebook friends we have, or the number of Instagram followers we are connected to, know that these are not infallible measurements of success. God isn't as interested in the quantity of our influence, as He is in the quality of our influence!  If we operate out of excellence and integrity, and continually trade in mediocrity for high quality, our impact will last through generations, no matter how many people we are reaching today.

Owning Fancy Things –

There is nothing wrong with having nice, expensive possessions, but if we are using them to prove something to ourselves and to others, then we have a problem. Success is not a goal to be attained, but rather a state of being. If we need something outward to validate us, then we have fallen prey to the wrong definition of success. Wisely guarding our hearts and faithfully stewarding what God has placed in our hands, no matter how big or small, valuable or invaluable it may seem to the world, will always result in success in God’s eyes.

Being a Recognized Speaker or Leader –

In my book, Let's Just Laugh at That, one lie we laugh at is this: "Heaven's best places are reserved for speakers and worship leaders." When we read that, it does seem ridiculous, but too often we overemphasize the importance of leaders and underemphasize the importance of those who faithfully and diligently work behind the scenes. Lasting success is rarely accomplished in isolation. It takes vision, unity, humility, and a willingness to contribute our best in every context and application in order to see the goal accomplished. Seen or unseen, your role matters!

People tend to look at the outer appearance, but God looks at the heart. Let's be faithful to steward our own hearts well, and let's celebrate and encourage those who so often find themselves devalued by our culture's priorities. Set a new standard of success in the lives of those around you!


Welcome to a 40 Day School for Renewing Your Mind

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ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcast, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

Overcoming Crisis Overload

Overcoming Crisis Overload

by Steve Backlund

For those who have served in any level of management or leadership, you are likely familiar with facing and handling multiple crises in a day. Though written for church leaders, this excerpt from Steve Backlund's Help! I'm a Pastor can lend guidance to anyone serving in a leadership position.

SCENARIO

Senior Pastor Cynthia Sincere of Peace Ministries does not know if she can take another phone call or read another email about what is happening in the lives of her leaders and church attendees. Yesterday, she got a call from the wife of an elder saying she is leaving her husband. The day before, the men’s ministries leader admitted to a serious pornography problem. Today, she heard two people in the church are suing each other because of a business deal that went bad. Cynthia tells her husband, “Everyone’s lives seem to be falling apart in our church! What is happening?” If you were Cynthia, what would you do?

LIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SCENARIO

  • If I am sincere, I will never experience any difficulties in life.
  • Churches making a difference should expect constant negative spiritual attacks on its leaders and people.
  • There is nothing we can do to decrease the amount of troubles the people of our church face.
  • Pastors who have a series of difficult circumstances in the church should just quit.

LIFE AND LEADERSHIP CORE VALUES TO CONSIDER*

  • Core Value  #1 – There is always a solution for every situation I face.
  • Core Value #10 – I create opportunities for those in my church to encounter God in powerful ways.
  • Core Value #17 – I thrive in uncertainty, difficulty, and unresolved situations because I have “word” from the Lord.
  • Core Value #74 – I have at least one person in my life with whom I share the deep things of my life with (things such as disappointments, weaknesses, dreams, fears, and longings).
  • Core Value #60 – God works all things together for good in my ministry.

DISCERNING WHAT GOD IS DEVELOPING IN ME

  • I am learning how to release hope in the most difficult circumstances.
  • I have the opportunity to draw near to the Lord for His strength.
  • I get to feel the pains of people and to “weep with those who weep.”

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE TAKING ACTION

  1. How can we strengthen the intercession of our ministry?
  2. Is the Holy Spirit showing me any spiritual roots for what is happening?
  3. Does our ministry focus more on the devil’s attacks or God’s protection?
  4. What steps can we take to increase our ministry to those who are hurting and going through difficulty?
  5. What am I supposed to do to help those in crisis? What am I not supposed to do?

PRACTICAL STEPS TO CONSIDER

  1. Realize that long-standing issues seem to surface in a grace and empowerment culture – Is it possible that issues do not actually come to the light until people are in environments where they will be loved and restored? Could it be ministries with wisdom, love, and the power of God attract people who are ready for their deep breakthrough? If this is true, then having people in our church struggling is often a compliment to us, not an indication that something is wrong.
  2. Revisit your beliefs about blessing, suffering, mystery, and protection – There are two opposing theological beliefs which complicate the leading of our ministries through challenging times. The first is an overemphasis on Satanic attacks – with the subtle, problem-causing belief that spiritual people will always be under attack. The other is the belief those close to Jesus will not face challenges in life – which often disconnects us with the pain people are experiencing. It is best to believe that as the kingdom advances there will be less curses and more blessings in our midst. As we battle with crisis in our ministry, we trust God to meet the need before us, but we also remain relentless to see our ministry live in the abundant life Jesus bought for us (including the blessing and protection of the Lord).
  3. Take care of yourself – Have people pray for you and your church. Do not feel you have to be the answer for everyone’s needs, but equip and activate people to be a strength for others. Realize some issues have been in existence for a long time, and it does not require an emergency response from you. Remember, the phrase “It came to pass,” and be glad it does not say, “It came to stay.”

DECLARATIONS

  • We have a powerful ministry of restoration.
  • We love people through pain and difficulty.
  • Our ministry increasingly sees people walk in blessing and protection.

*The Core Value numbers correlate to those listed in the 80 life and leadership core values in Help! I'm a Pastor.


Recommended Leadership Resources


ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcast, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

Arise and Shine

Arise and Shine

by Wendy Backlund

The secret to thriving in life isn’t the ability to avoid being caught up in issues, but the ability to know who you really are in the midst of whatever life brings your way. The truth is, you don’t find yourself in good situations because of sheer luck, but because of who you are, what you carry, your experience, your gifts, your perspectives, and your approach to things. Let’s say you lost your job tomorrow. Would your reaction be one of fear, believing that it was pure luck that got you there in the first place? Or, despite the initial shock,  would you respond knowing that it’s who you are that got you the job and that means there’s always another opportunity around the corner? Many times, we attribute everything bad that happens to us as proof that we are inadequate and are failures. However, when something good happens, we often attribute it to chance. We think, "I didn't deserve it, so I can't reproduce it." Not knowing who we truly are, combined with a fear of what might happen in the future, is the reason we find ourselves wilting in life rather than thriving.

We are the light! I love where it says in Isaiah 60, verse one, "Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and Kings to the brightness of your dawn.”  

I used to focus on the fear aspect of the "deep darkness” and miss the whole point. Deep darkness is an opportunity for us to shine. Even in this recent election, we could say, "Deep darkness is covering the United States!” Instead, we should know this hour is an invitation for people to finally arise and shine; it doesn't matter who becomes the president because kings and nations will come to our rising! It's not in our leader's hands, but ours! If we know who we are, we can create a stronghold of thriving!

The strongholds of the enemy used to occupy so much of my focus that it twisted my ability to see the potential a stronghold established in God could have. I used to think, “He’s got San Francisco in His hand, yet the people have been in sin for so long in that area that there’s such a deep stronghold of darkness.” Then one day God said, “You know Wendy,  every time you take communion, you are building a stronghold for righteousness. Every time you worship together as a church, you are building a stronghold in your city because if evil people can build a stronghold by doing evil, then righteous people can build a stronghold by being righteous.”

We have become so focused on what the enemy is doing that we have forgotten to recognize what we’re called to be, and who we are. We’re not called to be victims to darkness. The darkness is a victim to us! We were born to thrive!


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ABOUT WENDY BACKLUND

Wendy Backlund, along with her husband Steve, is from Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Wendy and Steve have a unique ministry that ignites hope, passion, joy, victorious mindsets and healthy relationships. They were senior leaders of renewal churches from 1991 to 2008 (Round Mountain, Nevada, and Weaverville, CA). The Backlunds travel regularly ministering to churches and leadership teams. Wendy has a passion for setting Christians free from their past and empowering them in their walk with Christ. She is a revelatory speaker, author, and teacher, enabling people to see life from a supernatural perspective.

Learn more about Wendy and her teaching at wendybacklund.com.

For more resources from Wendy, click the links below:

How to Have a Horrible 2017

How to Have a Horrible 2017

by Steve Backlund

 

Over the past month, we at Igniting Hope Ministries have been giving keys for having the best year yet in 2017. These can be found in our daily hope injections (daily videos found on our Instagram and Facebook pages). Now for a little bit of fun, we thought we’d share five sure-fire ways to have a horrible 2017 (along with a few keys to turn it around):

1) Complain a lot

Make sure to give voice to every negative thing you feel. Don’t hold anything back. Do your best to make people around you know that they and others are the reason for your unhappiness.

Listening to and giving room for every thought to take up residence in your daily life, without regard to what you know to be the truth, gives the enemy ample opportunity to wreak havoc on your mindsets, identity, and relationships. Not only that, victim mindsets begin to take root and powerlessness prevails. Align yourself with the truth, especially when it feels the least true. In time, your feelings will follow, victim mindsets will be a thing of the past, and living powerful and free will be your new normal!

2) Do only what you feel like doing –

Don’t think long-term, but make all decisions based on whether it makes you happy now. Don’t be concerned if it negatively impacts others or your future happiness.

Living only for the here and now may be gratifying in the moment, but you will quickly discover that it allows for very little momentum to be built for your future. What goals and dreams do you long to see come to pass in the next year? Be a dreamer! Cast vision! Set priorities and goals to see them fulfilled. When you have the end goal in mind, you realize that self-discipline, hard work, and sacrifice are the necessary by-products of a person pregnant with vision for their future. It may not always be easy, but it will definitely be worth it!

3) Watch/read the news more than you feed your spirit –

Make it your priority to feed on world news more than reading the Bible or connecting with the things of God.

World news is often questionably biased and inaccurate,  and one thing we can rely on is that it almost always focuses on what’s going wrong in the world, rather than what’s going right. This carries with it an undertone of fear and division, leading you to think that the problems presented are insurmountable and bigger than any one person or group of people can handle.

The reality is, our thoughts about a problem are usually a bigger problem than the actual problem! We are called to be thermostats, not thermometers. Consistently feeding your spirit on God’s Word and His truth will not only give you a Kingdom perspective, but it will empower you to create Kingdom culture wherever you go – a culture focused on hope and unity.

4) Be selfish –

Don’t find ways to help others. Be sure to hoard your time, your money, and your gifts.

An orphan mindset assumes there is only so much to go around, therefore, I need to protect what is mine in case there isn’t enough. We need to remember that God is not only a God of abundance and multiplication, but He is also the ultimate loving Father. When we acknowledge Him as such and step over the threshold from orphanhood into the fullness of our identities as sons and daughters, selfishness falls away and in its place, generosity resides.

When we give of ourselves, when we share what we have with others without reservation, it enables us to live out of the overflow of God’s goodness and provision. Our relationships flourish and we soon discover that life lived with an open hand adds immeasurably more than we could ever give away! Generosity is an invitation to feast on the richness of all that life has to offer.

5) Value tasks/goals above relationships –

Believe that heart connections with people are not as important as getting things done.

When your vision becomes more important than the people in your life, especially those you are leading, they become a commodity at your disposal. In the end, you may achieve some great success, but who will you have to enjoy it with if it is at the expense of your relationships?

You add value to people when you make it a priority to value them. The goal should not be to become a person of success but a person of value. It is when we make that distinction that we open the door to becoming great influencers. When that happens, success will naturally follow.


Recommended Resource


ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcast, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.

Pursuing Miracles But Facing Disappointment

Pursuing Miracles But Facing Disappointment

by Steve Backlund

 

We pray this excerpt from Steve Backlund's church leadership book, Help! I'm a Pastor, would offer keys and encouragement to you as you pursue miracles and healing in your life and the lives of those you lead.

SCENARIO

Pastor B. Healed leads a charismatic church and believes in divine healing. However, she and her church are not seeing people healed. They have been pursuing healing like never before – sermon series, fasting, Bible studies, declarations – but no one is getting healed. In fact, one of their key church leaders recently died of a disease they were sure God would heal. Pastor B. Healed is tired of not seeing results and feels like giving up on healing. If you were Pastor Healed, how would you move forward?

LIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SCENARIO

  • I do not have what it takes to lead this church into healing ministry.
  • God is using sickness to build our character and teach us something.
  • God has sovereignly chosen our church to not have a healing ministry.
  • No one with a powerful healing ministry ever struggled at first to see healing.

LIFE AND LEADERSHIP CORE VALUES TO CONSIDER

  • Core Value #7 – My team and I pursue spiritual fathers and mothers we mutually respect.
  • Core Value #10 – I create opportunities for those in my church to encounter God in powerful ways.
  • Core Value #17 – I thrive in uncertainty, difficulty, and unresolved situations because I have a “word” from the Lord.
  • Core Value #52 – I am a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser.
  • Core Value #73 – I intentionally associate with people who are stronger than me in key areas of life and ministry so I will become stronger in those areas.

DISCERNING WHAT GOD IS DEVELOPING IN ME

  • I am learning perseverance that will serve me well when the breakthroughs come.
  • I have the opportunity to receive an upgrade in my view of God.
  • I get to grow in leading people into finding keys to seeing healing released.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE TAKING ACTION

  1. Am I convinced it is God’s will for us to walk in health? Do my doctrinal beliefs in any way limit what we are experiencing?
  2. What are some things God is doing for me as I wait for breakthrough?
  3. Who can I meet with that is seeing breakthrough in healing?
  4. What healing Scriptures am I standing on that I know are true no matter what?

PRACTICAL STEPS TO CONSIDER

  1. Pursue the Healer, not just healing – Do not let your pursuit of breakthrough distract you from the Lord of the breakthrough. Use this time to seek Him more than just the manifestation of healing. The more you know His heart, the easier it will be to believe Him for what Jesus paid for (Isaiah 53:5-6). God will not withhold healing from you because you are bad. He will not heal you because you are good. He will heal you because of what Jesus has done.
  2. Put yourself in environments where healing is happening – Many things in the Spirit are better caught than taught. Consider being a part of a conference, healing school, and/or mission trip that focuses on activating believers in the supernatural and in healing. Many of these happenings have a time of impartation that can catalyze someone into more of the miraculous. Bill Johnson says, “If signs and wonders aren’t following you, follow them until they follow you.” If you connect with a speaker or group, consider bringing them to your church to activate and equip your people.
  3. Lead your church by example by taking risks and praying for people – The culture of a church is shaped from the top down; so as you take risks, it will be imparted to your church. Some of the greatest healing revivalists prayed for hundreds of people before they saw someone healed. John Wimber taught on healing at his church every week for over two years before they saw their first person healed. There has to be a relentless tenacity when pursuing healing. Randy Clark says, “The price you pay for a healing ministry is to push past the disappointments.” Remember: Healing is not our idea, healing is God’s idea. We are not trying to convince Him. He is trying to convince us. When someone steps out and prays for someone, even if they do not experience healing, celebrate the risk, not just the testimony. Make sure to celebrate every testimony publicly.

DECLARATIONS

  • Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still likes to heal.
  • I have authority to heal because of what Jesus has done.
  • Our church is a magnet for healing, and people around us constantly get healed.

 
 

About Help! I'm a Pastor

Help! I Am a Pastor addresses many common situations in church life that few seem really prepared for. It gives tools to successfully addressing these happenings with humor, healthy beliefs, and divine strategies.

The truths presented will help every church leader become more proactive in his or her leadership, plus be able to equip their teams with the core values necessary to create healthy ministries. This book includes 80 life and leadership core values and 50 real-life scenarios of everyday church life.


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ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcast, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram.


Stay Connected to Steve and Wendy!

5 Ways to Finish the Year Strong

5 Ways to Finish the Year Strong

 

by Steve Backlund

 

Long distance runners plan to have a “kick” at the end of their races. They train and prepare to sprint toward the finish line, knowing how they finish will almost always determine the result of their race. With this analogy in mind, here are five ways to finish this year strong:

 

Clean up any relational messes – “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Take the initiative to bring healing to relational hurts. When we say, “I am so sorry for how I have contributed to this...”, we give God a great opportunity to defuse any anger or offense in our relationships.

 

Take inventory of your spiritual life - “But the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). It was not in the spectacular spiritual events that Elijah was recalibrated, but it was in quieting his spirit to hear the “still, small voice” of God. As we spend extra time with the Lord to listen and re-evaluate our priorities at the end of the year, we give Holy Spirit the opportunity to speak God’s love to us and help redirect us from any negative tendencies in our lives.

 

Send powerful messages to the important people in your life – Take time to tell people what they mean to you. Find ways to say “thank you” to those who are serving you and making a difference in your life. These acts of kindness will make a bigger difference than you know.

 

Make a list of what you did well in the year – Don’t just dwell on what you could have done better in the year, but celebrate your successes and what you did right. The devil is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). He constantly wants to accuse us of what we are not and where we still fall short. God’s heart for us is not to listen to the devil’s accusations, but to rejoice in the progress we are making in Him.

 

Find ways to take positive steps towards the goals you had for the year – Most of us have some goals for the year that we did not complete. As we draw to the end of December, it is a good time to revisit these goals and take some active steps towards greater momentum in these areas. For instance, if we did not eliminate as much debt as we purposed to do, then pay something extra toward the debt’s principal (even if it is very small). Or, if you wanted to write consistently for a blog but didn’t make as much progress as you'd hoped, contact someone who has written a blog and ask them to pray with you about a strategy to write more in the coming year.

 

I see God empowering you with an incredible spiritual “kick” as you finish off 2016 and welcome 2017. Bless you much.

 



ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

The Incessant Talker Is Approaching You

The Incessant Talker Is Approaching You
 

An Excerpt from Help! I'm a Pastor

by Steve Backlund

SCENARIO:

Pastor Vair E. Fair values interaction and input from people in meetings he leads. It usually has gone well in the past, but that was before Don Dominator started attending his church. Don has a very powerful personality, and he loves to talk. It is not unusual for him to go on ten-minute verbal marathons at home groups and in meetings – often taking the conversation off topic. Also, Mr. Dominator always seems to be the first person to speak in any group setting. People like Slowie Processor and Moses Stutterer never seem to get a word in when Don is in the room. If you were Pastor Fair, what would you do?

LIES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SCENARIO:

  • People who talk too much cannot be a significant part of the church.
  • There are no solutions concerning someone who loves to talk.
  • If someone does not talk much, it means they have nothing important to say.
  • I do not have the ability to lead meetings if there are strong personalities there.

LIFE AND LEADERSHIP CORE VALUES TO CONSIDER:

  • I build a culture of feedback in my ministry that I lead by example.
  • I proactively anticipate challenges that could occur in the future.
  • I pursue relationships with the strong influencers in places I am called to lead.
  • I believe people’s negative qualities are usually immature characteristics of
  • positive qualities in their life.
  • I help people understand how their behavior impacts others.

DISCERNING WHAT GOD IS DEVELOPING IN ME:

  • I am learning how to lead small group meetings at a higher level.
  • I have the opportunity to discern in a higher way how to have freedom without the same people dominating a meeting.
  • I get to grow in inspiring and connecting with different personalities.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE TAKING ACTION:

  1. Is Don aware of his tendency to excessively talk?
  2. How much training do we provide our leaders on leading small group meetings?
  3. Is this situation exposing insecurities in me regarding me being a strong leader?
  4. What can I learn from experienced small group leaders?
  5. How can I structure meetings to avoid long-winded talkfests?

PRACTICAL STEPS TO CONSIDER:

1. Improve your leadership training on how to lead small groupsSmall group leadership training is a must for healthy experiences in these groups. This training should cover topics such as planning, building trust, nurturing growth, growing a leadership team, delegation, handling common problems, etc. There are many books and online resources to help with this. Also, it is good to have all small group leaders meet once or twice a year for a refresher training and to share with each other what is working and where they need help.

2. Partner with the strong influencer to improve meetings – One of the best strategies with any challenging person in group settings is to ask the person to partner with you to help the meeting flow better. This sends an “I need you” message to the person and helps him or her see the bigger picture. “Don, I love your enthusiasm to participate at such a high level in our small group. As you can probably see, people like Slowie and Moses don’t share much. I want so much to help them grow in their confidence to share what God is giving them. Would you help me?”

3. Learn how to decrease the likelihood of people regularly dominating meetings – This can be done by: a) giving ground rules for what sharing will look like – “Keep your comments to two minutes or less,” b) If the dominating person keeps talking, interrupt him as they catch their breath and say, “That’s a good point. Slowie, what do you think?” c) If he interrupts someone who is talking, hold your hand up and say, “Sorry, Don, Moses was talking first.” Turn to Moses and say, “Moses, now what were you saying?” d) Meet privately with the talker after the meeting to share in love what you saw happening and why you did what you did. Note: we need to be secure in our leadership. Our goal is not to prove to others we are a good leader but to actually believe we are a good leader.

DECLARATIONS:

  • My leaders and I are skilled facilitators of small group meetings.
  • I really help incessant talkers know how to succeed in small groups.
  • I am able to successfully lead different types of people.


ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

5 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

5 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

by Steve Backlund

Stephen Covey wrote the best seller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Conversely, here are some habits for anyone who wants to be highly ineffective (or wants to know what habits to avoid on a journey towards greater effectiveness):

Impulsiveness – Emotion-based decisions need time for confirmation before being finalized. Whether it is “falling in love”, making a major purchase, or some other big decision, it is wise to find ways to protect yourself from bad choices. We can do this by having good accountability in our lives, by setting aside time for prayer and Bible reading, and by invoking a 24 hour, one week, or one month rule of refusing to make a major decision within that time period.

Laziness – It has been said that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people find ways to do what they don’t want to do, while unsuccessful people won’t find those ways. We all have many things we don’t want to do, but those who don’t advance in life tend to prioritize play before responsibilities.  

Victim Mindsets – Blaming others for our lack of progress blocks us from seeing the pathways available to us for forward movement in our lives. One of the ways to overcome such tendencies is to read stories of people who have overcome great odds in life to do great things, such as Helen Keller or William J. Seymour of the Azusa Street Revival.

Mistreating People – Those who put goals above quality relationships will invariably hurt others. When we aspire to be great regardless of how it impacts others, we are not successful people. People on their death beds rarely say, “I wish I would have made more money or been in the office more.” On the contrary, people at the end of their lives often wish they would have loved their family and others in a greater way by cultivating relationships more.

Ignoring Spirituality – As a person of faith, I have come to the conclusion that ignoring the spiritual side of life will eventually have negative consequences. If you are looking for a place to begin to activate your spirit in a great way, I recommend reading one chapter every day from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. It is a gold mine of wisdom.



ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

It's Not Fair!

It's Not Fair!

An excerpt from Let's Just Laugh at That For Kids

by Steve Backlund
 

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done." Philippians 4:6

 

Have you ever thought you don’t get as much as others do? Or do you believe "My parents let my brothers and sisters do more than me." Or you think "My friends get more than I do" or "The teacher gives other people special jobs, and I never get to be chosen!” As you think about these things, the warning light in your mind may begin to flash. “What about me?!” You feel something rising inside of you. Now it’s fighting to get out of your mouth, and then these words cannot be held in any longer: “It’s not fair!” As you say this, the siren sounds. Quick action is required. You pull out your weapon of choice — the Laughter Boots. You slip them on your feet and start stomping that lie to dust!

The Truth:

If we are only looking for things to be equal, life will never seem fair. There are several Bible stories that may not seem fair to us. One is when David goes to battle with 600 hundred men (1 Samuel 30). The battle is so long and hard that 200 hundred men had to rest by a stream. They left the others to fight. Later, the 400 men came back victorious. David asked for the treasure they won to be shared between the 600 men. Some of the fighters may have asked, “Why should these lazy men get anything?” They complained because they had done the work while the others rested. Still, David demanded it to be shared evenly. Fair does not always mean equal. Even Jesus didn’t spend the same amount of time with each of His disciples, but He knew what they needed. Jesus had twelve disciples, but He spent more time with the three. If we look at what we don’t have, life will never seem fair. Jesus might not give us what someone else has, but He always gives us what we need.

What Can I Say?

• God always has the best for me.

• My life is special and unique. It will look different than anyone else’s.

• I choose to think more about what I have than what I want.

What Can I Do?

• Refuse to compare – Comparing yourself to another person can steal your joy. Instead, don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. You will be amazed at how much better things will be.

• Treat people well – It starts with you. You get to change your world by treating people around you with honor (Luke 6:31). As you do this, you will often find people treating you more fairly. If you are waiting on someone else to treat you right first, then fairness may never happen. What is one thing you can do today to treat someone else well? Consider doing something like putting an encouraging note around your family’s dinner plates or on their pillows before bed.

• Celebrate the good stuff – Do a happy dance over something you are grateful for. Sometimes we can have the most amazing things right in front of us and not realize what we have. If you’re with family and friends, go ahead and have a party. Blow up balloons and put up decorations. There are plenty of things to celebrate. Invite your parents to enjoy the party with you.



ABOUT STEVE BACKLUN

Steve 2016 2.jpg

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

5 Ways to have a Better Christmas this Year

5 Ways to have a Better Christmas this Year

 by Steve Backlund


Yes, Christmas is just around the corner. It's time to prepare for a great time with God and loved ones, and to celebrate together! There are many different ways to have a great Christmas this year, but here are five suggestions:

1. Pray about it – "You have not because you ask not" (James 4:3). Our prayers are powerful and effective. When we ask God to bless our Christmas time, it causes things to happen that would not have happened if we had not prayed. When you agree with a loved one in prayer for a glorious Christmas, the power of prayer increases (Matthew ‪18:19).

2. Find ways to be less stressed – There are so many good things to do during the Christmas season, but we cannot do them all.  Often, when we don’t plan ahead of time, we find ourselves impulsively saying “yes” to too many things or taking on too much emotional responsibility for the happiness of others. The few weeks before Christmas are a good time to pull out your calendar to get a clear idea of what your true priorities are during this holiday season.

3. Bless the poor – One of the best things a family can do is to give to and/or serve the poor during the holiday season. Christmas is the season for giving and it is good to give beyond what we give to our immediate families. Find someone less fortunate than you and bless them in some way. It will make Christmas extra special. 

4. Take time to feed your spirit – The Christmas story is incredible. As we bask in its reality and truths, we will ignite a fresh work of the Spirit in our lives. Find a way to spend extra time in His presence or attend something special to connect personally with God this time of year, like a Christmas Eve candlelight service.  

5. Focus more on heart connections than on having the perfect Christmas – This season is about relationships (first with God, then with our families, and others). Don't let perfectionism rob you of the special bonding moments available during the holidays. 

At Igniting Hope Ministries, we’re praying you and your family have the best Christmas yet.



 

ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

 

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

5 Ways to Become Thermostatic Instead of Being a Thermometer

5 Ways to Become Thermostatic Instead of Being a Thermometer

by Steve Backlund

 

Thermometers diagnose the temperature, while thermostats set the temperatures. Influencers are "thermostatic" people who create a higher level of experience for those connected to them. Here are five things to know to activate the thermostat within you.

1. Know the faith walk is believing and then seeing – I used to only believe something was true once I saw it in my experience. For instance, I would not believe I was an influencer of nations until I actually saw that I was influencing nations. God told me, "That is not how this all works. You must believe to see, not see to believe." Faith is believing something is true even before we see it in our experience.

2. Know things don't immediately change when you set a new temperature on your thermostat – It would be foolish to say, "This is not working!" thirty seconds after you set a new temperature on the thermostat. It takes time for the environment to catch up to the new setting. Likewise, our experiences will catch up to our beliefs and the waiting time is called "faith."

3. Know we cannot get our beliefs  from our feelings or our past experiences  – These are the two main ingredients of "thermometer living": 1) We don't deny the past,but we cannot get our beliefs from it, and 2) we acknowledge the facts of what is happening, but we believe in truths that are higher than the facts of our experiences.

4. Know that what we renew our minds with today radically influences what we will experience tomorrow – Romans 12:2 says to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  How we renew our minds now creates future experiences. If we only renew our minds with what has happened, we will repeat what has happened. Thermostatic people intentionally meditate on and believe the promises of God even when their experiences are saying something totally different.

5. Know "life is in the power of the tongue" – Those who don't upgrade their language will have more difficulty being thermostatic. Our words are containers of life or death (Proverbs 18:21) and they become a directing force in our lives (James 3:2-5).



ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

Empowering Truth

Empowering Truth

by Wendy Backlund

 

"Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).

For the most part, our minds have been trained to view life from the perspective of our past as mere mortals.  It is up to us to train our brains to see life from the perspective of the spirit and to view ourselves as resurrected beings.

We obtain eternal life when we have faith in Christ and His resurrection. But we have a transformed life when we have faith in our resurrected life.

I am passionate about becoming more aware of the things of the spirit and recognizing that I am more spirit than flesh. Romans 12:2 says that we are transformed by renewing our minds. This means that to be transformed into the fullness of our new creation, we must have new belief systems. We learn to base our new identity on the Word of God, not past experience that was gained from this natural realm.

If we want to become empowered to live out our destiny, we will need confidence, boldness, and courage. These traits do not come from what we have done, but they come from what we believe we can do. Empowerment comes from not only knowing our identity, but also believing in our delegated authority. Empowerment from others will eventually manifest when we feel empowered by the Word of God.

Feeling empowered entails having a renewed mind concerning the truth about our capabilities as new creations. Our identity is linked to understanding that we are children of God. Being a child of God means we learn through process and failure just as human babies do. Human babies do not "do" shame and guilt unless their parents teach it to them inadvertently. Learning to walk in the spirit is a process and not a one-time event. When a baby is born, we do not expect him/her to walk, talk, or do math from birth. But we do know that all these abilities are built into the baby in creation. We offer grace and help while they are in the process of learning to do these things.

Many Christians talk about being a new creation, but it is just a theology to them. When asked what it means to be a new creation, often they cannot explain what they have become. They think that if they fix the old creature, it can somehow make them into a new creature. Do you see the dilemma? They think they are caterpillars required to act like butterflies. So they keep working on their caterpillar identity, trying to make themselves capable of flying by cutting off their feet.

So what are you? If we are resurrected with Christ, then we are not supposed to just try to act like Him, but believe like Him. We are not as He was here on earth, but the scripture in 1 John above states that we are as He is right now.

It is time to rehearse what we are in our imagination. Use the Word of God to discover truths about our new identity. Make a determined effort to challenge every thought that robs you of confidence, boldness, hope, or courage. What beliefs will encourage and inspire you?Think on these things.



WENDY BACKLUND

Wendy Backlund is an author and speaker. She, along with her husband Steve, have a unique ministry that ignites hope, joy, and victorious mindsets into people's lives. Wendy has a passion for setting Christians free from their past and empowering them in their walk with Christ. She is a revelatory speaker, equipping people to see life from a supernatural perspective.

Social Links:
Website: wendybacklund.com
Facebook: Wendycbacklund
Twitter: Wendycbacklund
Instagram: Wendycbacklund
Contact: info@wendybacklund.com

Touching Faith

Touching Faith

An Excerpt from the book Living From the Unseen
by Wendy Backlund


“And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body,
already dead (since he was about a hundred years old),
and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the
promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith,
giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what
He had promised He was also able to perform.”
Romans 4:19-21

I love how God speaks to me. He will drop a thought in my mind, and then wait to see if I will be noble enough to search out all the riches within that thought (Proverbs 25:2). One of the most wealthy thoughts that has come to me is “I do not need to do anything different, I just need to attach great faith to what I am already doing.” This powerful truth has two aspects that I want to discuss.

The first is learning to recognize what kind of faith we are unconsciously attaching to our actions, circumstances, or people. This was made real to me one day while getting ready for a counseling session with a certain person. I was dreading the meeting, and God asked me why. I explained to Him that the person I was meeting with was not very teachable and was very prone to defensiveness and anger.

In short, I was expecting very negative results from this meeting. God then quietly said, “If that is your faith for this appointment, I do not want you to go.” I was stunned because I knew He was not telling me not to go, but to change my faith for the meeting. In order to do that, I had to “see” differently. When I became receptive to seeing the meeting through the eyes of my spirit, I realized I had limited the meeting to the natural realm. 

He began to remind me that I carried a spirit of revelation that could influence her thoughts and emotions. I was able to see myself walking in the substance of love and grace, which would enable her to feel accepted and teachable. Once I saw the potential for the meeting, I got excited and attached great faith to what would be accomplished. As a result, it was a great meeting! 

Now when I have feelings of dread, I recognize that I have attached negative beliefs to the situation. Too often, we accept feelings of dread because it seems reasonable. But it is just a signal that we have made conclusions based on the natural realm rather than the supernatural realm.

This principle is not just for things that seem spiritual. For instance, soon after the counseling meeting that I mentioned above, God asked me why I often procrastinated and dreaded vacuuming my carpet. I thought about it and became aware that I believed vacuuming was time consuming and hard. This belief was based on my unpleasant experience as a young girl vacuuming our large family home. I purposely began changing my belief about vacuuming. I began to see it as easy. When I actually timed myself, I discovered that (in the house I lived in) it only took ten minutes! I also began using the time while vacuuming to pray in the spirit and began to love it! This experience taught me that just because something feels true, it does not mean it is true.

Changing what you believe about something will change the feelings attached to it. Are you dreading a meeting, a responsibility, or even an entire day? Ask God to show you what belief has caused this dread. Then allow Him to show you what it can look like through the eyes of your spirit. As we learn to recognize when we are attaching negative faith to our life, it can be a fun adventure. I love the results of freedom from dread to life!



ABOUT WENDY BACKLUND

Wendy Backlund is an author and speaker. She, along with her husband Steve, have a unique ministry that ignites hope, joy, and victorious mindsets into people's lives. Wendy has a passion for setting Christians free from their past and empowering them in their walk with Christ. She is a revelatory speaker, equipping people to see life from a supernatural perspective.

Social Links:
Website: wendybacklund.com
Facebook: Wendycbacklund
Twitter: Wendycbacklund
Instagram: Wendycbacklund
Contact: info@wendybacklund.com

5 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making

5 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making

by Steve Backlund



Decision making is certainly a big part of our lives. I recently read the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Most of these are small ones, but that is still a lot of decisions!


In Proverbs, we frequently read about prioritizing wisdom. One aspect of wisdom is the ability to make decisions that lead to joy and peace rather than to stress and chaos.
 

"Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her" (Proverbs 3:13-18).


These are great promises in finding wisdom and understanding. Assuming that our decisions are based on the Bible and not on our feelings or what is popular in culture today, we are blessed when we base our decisions in relation to the timeless principles of God’s Word. With this reality as our foundation, here are five ideas on how to improve your decision making:
 

  1. Implement the 24 hour rule – Impulsive decision makers fail to consider the long term implications of what they are deciding to do. They base their choices on the emotions they feel in the moment, rather than on seeing how saying yes or no fits into bigger priorities already made. To avoid making impulsive decisions, say, "Let me get back to you tomorrow after I have had more time to think about this. If it is a bigger decision, even more time will be needed.
     

  2. Only takes big risks if you have a big story from God – The Bible is filled with big risk takers. For instance, Joseph only committed to marrying a pregnant Mary after he had a powerful dream from God on the matter. We too will receive a "story" from God to do what is seemingly illogical.
     

  3. Find ways to “date” your decision before you “marry” it – I tell leaders to "date" people with lesser responsibilities before they "marry" them with a big title in their ministry or organization. This principle can be carried over into decision making as well. One way to do this is by deciding in your spirit what you are going to do, and then giving God time to fully confirm before you announce your decision to others.
     

  4. Clarify all your options – Anxiety about making decisions can be decreased by clearly identifying our options. Once we know what we can do, it will start a process of elimination that will help lead us to the best decision.
     

  5. Make your decision in faith – Once you have done all you know to do to make the highest choice, then decide in faith. Double-mindedness is the enemy of great decision makers and great influencers. We can build the "muscle" of making decisions in faith by releasing high-level beliefs in smaller decisions we make (i.e., giving or not giving to a need, going or not going to a meeting, etc.).



ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
 

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.

10 Characteristics of Empowering Meetings

10 Characteristics of Empowering Meetings

from the newly released book The Culture of Empowerment

by Steve Backlund 

Teammates are encouraged and empowered when they get to participate in meetings that are life-giving, strategic, and encouraging. The benefits of being part of a team that consistently has empowering meetings are limitless. 

In our previous blog, w discussed the 13 Characteristics of Non-Empowering Meetings. (PUT LINK HERE)

 This week, we want to highlight the positive characteristics of empowering meetings. 

CHARACTERISTICS OF EMPOWERING MEETINGS:

1. Proactive planning and communication takes place. 

2. Time is regularly set aside to celebrate testimonies of team members'  successes and wins.

3. Attendees are given opportunities to influence the quality of meetings by participating in various aspects of the meeting (e.g. opening or closing the meeting, sharing testimonies, facilitating a discussion, or leading a team building exercise, etc.).

4. Laughter is a norm in team meetings.

5. Leaders draw out thoughts and ideas from quiet team members. 

6. Attendees understand how the meeting fits into the bigger purposes of the relationship or organization.

7. Leaders express gratitude for the team members and have a great ability to make people feel valued.

8. Individuals are celebrated frequently, including those who are behind-the-scenes.

9. Leaders give regular, constructive feedback. 

10. Meetings have time set aside for people to respond to the question, “Is there any other business we need to cover?"



ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
 

Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.

For more, check out Steve's iTunes podcastYouTube ChannelFacebook pageTwitter, and Instagram.