Why You Can Be Radically Encouraged Now

Why You Can Be Radically Encouraged Now

by Steve Backlund

 

For those of you who have followed our ministry from some time, you know our core message about living a life of overflowing hope and joy through renewing your mind with truth (Romans 12:2) and establishing godly beliefs to replace the enemy's lies. Though many are encouraged by these truths, the process of establishing new strongholds of hope in your mind can be a journey that takes time. Just as athletes need to be reminded of their vision and celebrate progress in the midst of difficult and exhausting training, so do you as you work to establish new thought patterns and beliefs that didn't previously exist in your life.

Kris Vallotton often preaches, "Vision gives pain a purpose." In light of this, I've written seven reasons for you to be overflowing with thanksgiving and hope even in the midst of the mind renewal journey; reasons you can be radically encouraged not only at the end of the journey, but right now

May these seven reasons below serve as an reminder of the vision you're working towards – a life of breakthrough, abounding hope, and joy, particularly in a key area of life where you've felt hopeless.

Why you can be radically encouraged now:

  1. There is no one like you – You and your calling are entirely unique and no one can fulfill it like you. There is no one on the planet who is wired and designed just like you, and who has had the experiences in life you've have. There are people you can powerfully reach that few others can. 
  2. Many have overcome the challenges you're currently facing – Whether you're battling personal, relational, financial, or circumstantial obstacles, be encouraged that multitudes have overcome the same thing and lived a life of purpose and fulfillment. 
  3. Your biggest challenge is not about you – James 1:12 says that a "crown of life" is given to those who overcome. This crown represents authority to impart life and breakthrough to others in the same area which was overcome. So, your greatest struggle right now is equipping you with compassion and power to influence others in the same battle.
  4. Your past is being turned to good – "All things work for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose," (Romans 8:28). As we prioritize our relationship with God, ALL things from our past are working for our good. This is especially encouraging when we consider negative things that have happened in our lives. 
  5. You are increasing your load-bearing capacity – God's purpose is for us to move toward greater influence for Him (in our families, our communities, our nations, and beyond). In order to have greater influence, we need a greater load-bearing capacity (greater strength). Both physical and emotional muscles are built by pushing against resistance. Your current difficult circumstances and emotions are opportunities to increase your load-bearing capacity for the great callings on your life in the days ahead. 
  6. You are storing up treasure in heaven – Jesus calls us to do this in Matthew 6:19. As we think we an eternal perspective, we realize that there is much more to life than just having good circumstances here on earth. 
  7. God's promises are true – "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful," (Hebrews 10:23). Ultimately, our encouragement comes from believing that God is faithful and His promises are true. As we declare biblical promises, we will be encouraged.

In 1 Samuel 30, David is a wonderful example of someone who encouraged himself and moved forward under extremely dire and negative circumstances. His city was burned, families were kidnapped, and his men also wanted to kill him. It was not a good day! But he found a way to get radically encouraged nonetheless. In whatever we are facing, so can we. 

For more on this or to listen to this message, click the button below to listen on the Igniting Hope podcast:


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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.

"I Was Wrong. I Am Sorry."

"I Was Wrong. I Am Sorry."

by Steve Backlund

 

Why are these words so hard to say? Whether it is a child apologizing to a sibling or an adult expressing apology to a spouse, it seems rare for us to say these things without fighting off some kind of reservation or justification in our minds.

One of the reasons for this difficulty is that we feel if we admit to being wrong, then others will be less likely to admit their wrongs and not take responsibility for them. We tend to avoid responsibility for our actions until other people do so for theirs. 

Recently I did not follow through on something I told someone I would do. This person pointed this out to me. My first reaction was to send an apology which included excuse-laden wording like, "I have been so busy lately, therefore I forgot." Basically, I wanted to say, "You cannot expect me to be responsible because I am a victim of my busyness." As I thought about it more, I once again realized that this is the pathway of the mediocre and the unhappy. 

So, I sent him an email saying, "I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me." I also expressed that it's one of my core values to follow through on what I say I am going to do, and that I had not done this in the situation with him. He graciously responded and forgave me.

As I thought about this situation in my life, I was reminded of the power of admitting our relational mistakes to those we have hurt, disrespected, or let down. Whatever short-term pain we experience in exercising such humility will be far surpassed by the blessings of being a person of integrity (both by having a clear conscience and by having people view us with greater favor).

Taking responsibility for our hurtful actions toward others will cause people to trust us more because they will unconsciously conclude four things about us: 

  1. We're setting healthy standards of behavior in our lives.  
  2. We're dealing with any victim mindsets.
  3. We're prioritizing honor in our relationships.
  4. We're fostering and establishing trust-filled, healthy relationships.

Because of these conclusions, trust toward us will increase. We will be seen more and more to be safe people whom others can connect with. We will be respected as leaders in greater ways. 

"I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?" Who do you need to say these words to? It may feel difficult and risky to express these thoughts, but I encourage you to do it anyway. It takes a big person to do so. 

If you want more on this, please listen to this week's podcast by clicking the button below:


Steve 2018_1.jpg

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.

5 Keys to Effective Teaching and Preaching

5 Keys to Effective Teaching and Preaching

by Steve Backlund

 

The world has been and will be shaped by effective communicators. Those who grow in their speaking abilities today will dramatically impact the world tomorrow. This is especially true concerning teachers and preachers in the Church, as we carry the message of the good news of the Gospel to transform individuals and society. 

I have the privilege of speaking in front of hundreds of groups a year. It is one of my most important assignments. I have had to overcome many fears to feel comfortable speaking publicly. Many effective speakers struggled in their beginning season of public speaking, but learned to overcome any apparent failure and ultimately became great influencers through clear, creative, and inspiring verbal presentations. You too can overcome and improve in this important area of life and influence.

We can all grow further in our public speaking skills. Below are five keys I've learned for effective teaching and preaching to help you do so. Even if you are not a teacher or preacher in the Church, these concepts will be beneficial to you in whatever setting you have the opportunity to speak:

  1. Share your own story – People don't just want information; they want to know you. They want to understand how the ideas you are speaking about have worked in your own life (especially any challenges you may have had in implementing them). If the listeners perceive you to be real and authentic, their hearts will be drawn to your heart and you will begin to earn their trust.
  2. Share truth about the topic – Sharing our experiences will certainly help create a "bridge" and help our audiences to embrace the revelations we're communicating, but giving the biblical basis for "why" and "how" questions in our message is necessary for people in the Church to accept our words. If we inadequately do this (especially with newer concepts for the listeners), then we create unnecessary roadblocks preventing people from receiving our message. Wise speakers anticipates why people may have challenges in receiving their message and proactively addresses those objections.
  3. Believe you are speaking to great people – Who we believe we are talking to greatly impacts the level of empowerment that comes through our message. If we believe the listeners are prone to do wrong, our choice of words will most likely bring feelings of guilt and condemnation. On the other hand, if we believe we are speaking to world-changers, then hope and confidence will be released. 
  4. Identify and express your audience's strengths – As we identify what is good in the individuals and the group we're speaking to, and pursue God on how He sees them, we can help open our listeners' eyes to what positive things are already at work in their lives. As we identify and express thanks for these things, it helps the listeners to know we are more concerned about them as people than ensuring they receive our revelations.
  5. Utilize the two "H's": humor and humility – When a group laughs, their listening defenses start to come down. Certainly, we need to choose wisely in what we have them laugh about, but great speakers know how to use humor to help connect with their audience. When this is combined with humility (i.e. sharing something like, "I'm still growing in these truths too,"), you create a powerful foundation for effective teaching and preaching. 

There are many other truths we could share about how to improve our communication to groups, but I believe these five will help you connect with, inspire, and convince people of the great truths in Scripture and life that God is revealing to you.

For more on this topic, listen to my podcast my clicking the button below:


Steve 2018_1.jpg

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.

I Spoke 100 Declarations a Day...And Here's What Happened

I Spoke 100 Declarations a Day...And Here's What Happened

by Steve Backlund

 

Where it All Began

In the 90s, I remember finding a cassette tape by Joyce Meyer where she talked about writing ten declarations of truths and promises God had given her. She spoke these declarations morning and night and they all came true in her life. I said, "I'm going to try that." I did, and it changed my beliefs, and then my life as well. I can say from personal experience that changing what I intentionally spoke was instrumental in breaking off my self-limiting beliefs. 

My own personal transformation launched me into a spiritual "experiment" with the Lord on the power of speaking life through declarations. I wondered, "What could happen in our lives as we declare truth over our destinies? What could happen in our cities as we speak life over them? In our nations?" 

Experimenting with Declarations

Overjoyed with what I had just experienced, and in full experimentation-mode, I set out to discover more about what makes declarations (that is, intentionally speaking life and biblical truth out-loud) so powerful, and how to make this powerful tool accessible and practical to the Body of Christ.

One of my primary, crucial discoveries was this – 

The power in making faith-filled, biblical declarations to dismantle a lie from the enemy is found in the amount of declarations we speak. 

Rather than simply declaring a few truths a day in times of trial or even reading a powerful list of declarations and never speaking them aloud, I've found that speaking massive doses of life (hundreds of declarations a day for several days) over an area where you're believing a lie not only disempowers the lie, but helps establish a new stronghold of truth in its place.

The Declarations Clicker

After this realization, I decided to take my experiment even further. Elijah Stephens, a friend of our ministry, shared a revelation with me that he'd received from the Lord about using a tally counter to count your daily declarations. He found in his own experimentation with declarations that using a tally counter challenged him to hit a certain number of declarations everyday and encouraged him to speak many more when he could tabulate his progress.

Plus, we've heard that a physical act, like clicking a tally counter, every time you speak a truth has the power to reinforce that truth being spoken into your mind. (We've since created a tally counter specifically for declarations through Igniting Hope called the Declarations Clicker for this, listed below).

So, I grabbed a tally counter of my own and challenged myself to speak 100 declarations a day for a month to see what what would happen when I intentionally spoke massive doses of life. I was amazed to see specific things I declared over myself, my leadership, and my ministry begin to happen before my eyes, all through partnering my speech with God's truth and what He wanted to do.

declarations testimonies

This experience launched the idea of our ministry's 30 Day Declarations Experiment, a challenge to the Body of Christ to speak at least 100 biblical declarations a day for 30 days and observe what happens in and through your life. This year, our third annual 30 Day Declarations Experiment starts on June 1! Registration is now open, so scroll below to learn more and sign up.

I have taught on declarations for years and have heard testimony after testimony of how adding this habit into your life has been transformational to all kinds of people. I'm so convinced of the power of declarations to renew minds with truth, unlock destiny, and release people into lasting breakthrough.

To ignite your faith on the power of speaking declarations, here's some testimonies we've received over the years:

       “During the summer, I helped a farmer at her vineyard in Germany. We heard news of the cherry fruit flies invading and destroying crops creating much damage in the neighbourhood. She believed in Jesus but not the supernatural. After hearing Steve and Wendy talk about the power of our words, I suggested we make positive declarations about her crop being the best one yet and no cherry flies touching her vineyard. When it was time for harvest, her mom said it was the best quality of grapes they had received in years! She called is a ‘miracle’. No flies touched her crop and nearly no rotten grapes.  My friend said ‘This was clearly the Lord. He held His hand over our fields’. She is now more confident when praying in faith. Thank you for your message! Its changing mindsets, lives, and communities!"

– Gerald

      "I am an owner of an investment company and over the past few months we've been running into some pretty significant issues that seemed unable to fix. When Steve was in Germany, he shared on his core value of believing 'There is always a solution.'  Steve declared over me 'He makes a way when there seems to be no way.' I continued to recite, 'There is always a solution,' I had the revelation that God makes a way and can create a solution that had never previously existed. And guess what? God responded! I have just confirmed that an idea I received from the Holy Spirit during prayer time will actually work and not only a temporary fix but build on the business as well. I am so amazed! Thank you."

– Jason

      "I have a dear friend that lost her husband recently at a young age. A couple of weeks ago quite a lot of mice also took up residency in her home. She said that since her husband died she had been sleeping well realizing that many people are continuing to pray for her, but since the mice moved in, she wasn’t sleeping at all. I began to speak declarations over her house and property that it would be a 'rodent-free zone.' It sounded so funny, but I encouraged her to go in and clean up any droppings that she saw so that she would know that they had left the building. After following my advice, my friend called to say there were no more rodent signs anywhere in her house! This has built my faith (and hers) to keep making declarations. This was a huge deal for my friend as the enemy was using these rodents to attack her peace as she is walking through her grief.  Thank you for all your teaching on making declarations!"

– Jennifer

      "I have been making positive declarations over my life and my family since being in Steve’s church leadership class at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. I have witnessed signs and wonders around me before but they have been mainly outside of me, but since I have been in his class, I have noticed a sign and wonder – a supernatural transformation WITHIN me. It has taken place in my mind and the way I think. I started off by declaring the list of declarations that we were given by Steve. From this, I have noticed a dramatic shift in my thinking and then saw the manifestation of the fruit of this transformation in my family relationships this Christmas!

My first few days home this Christmas, my mom and I had a conversation where I could feel a familiar tension. I thought, "Oh no, here we go again," but then immediately heard the declaration "the past does not dictate the future." Bam! It shook me out of what I was feeling and I realized Holy Spirit was calling me to make some declarations over my family in that moment. That afternoon, I realized a new freedom had come upon me. I felt the atmosphere begin to shift in the house from tension to unconditional love. My mom and I (and the rest of the family too) had what I believe was the best Christmas we have ever had together. I bought my mom Steve’s book on declarations and shared with her and some other family members about the supernatural breakthrough I experienced as a result of Steve’s teaching. She is totally on-board and is now experiencing breakthrough in her relationships as well!"

– Mary

      "I have been called to be an actress and minister the love of God on people in the entertainment industry. I’ve been plagued by terrible anxiety in my auditions and believing that I am not a good actress. I recently heard Steve speak and had never heard a message on renewing my mind before. I realized my belief about myself was sabotaging my auditions and career on film and television. I began to declare out loud over myself who God called me. I have since encountered a new peace in my life and mind shift that I have the best auditions and people feel God’s love radiating from me. Thank you for shifting the course of my destiny with this message. I declare those who are called to Hollywood will encounter this powerful message of truth!"

– Simone


Registration for our 2018 30 Day Declarations Experiment, starting June 1, is now OPEN! Click the button below to learn more and sign up!


make the most of your declarations

Declarations book

The Declarations Clicker


Steve 2018_1.jpg

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.

5 Steps to Radical Mind Renewal

5 Steps to Radical Mind Renewal

by Steve Backlund

 

"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind," (Romans 12:2).

This powerful verse has changed Wendy's and my life, and has since become the pillar of our ministry, Igniting Hope. Though the word "hope" isn't clearly stated in this verse, we quickly learned the fruit of transformation through mind renewal was always greater levels of hope and joy. Renewing our minds with God's truth transforms us, which manifests as tangible hope in our lives.

Here are some great truths we can glean from Romans 12:2:

  • Current mind renewal creates future experience (whether in the negative or positive).
  • The past cannot block our future transformation, but the beliefs we currently rehearse can. 
  • All limits are removed from our lives! Because there is no limit to how much we can renew our minds with truth, there is no limit to how much we can be transformed. 

Our ministry seeks to take the mystery out of Romans 12:2 mind renewal. Simply put, biblical mind renewal is the decision to rehearse thoughts based on the promises of God, rather than rehearsing those based on our feelings or experiences. We are to think and speak at a higher level than what is happening. This doesn't mean we should deny the existence of negative circumstances when they occur, but we don't allow them to dictate our beliefs and hope levels for the future.

To help you on your mind renewal journey, here are five steps I've implemented in my own life that continue to lead me into personal transformation:

  1. Identify areas of your life that are not "glistening with hope" – "May the God of hope fill you...in believing," (Romans 15:13). Our hope level is the indicator of whether we're believing lies or truth. A lack of hope is the "check engine" light of our lives that reveals a bad belief exists. If we try to change our circumstances without changing our beliefs surrounding those circumstances, we will most likely not experience long-lasting transformation. 
  2. Verbalize the lie fueling this lack of hope – When we are able to verbalize aloud the lies creating our lack of hope, it brings the enemy's tactics into the light (which starts the process of disempowering them). For instance, I can identify that I believe "nobody around here wants to respond to the Gospel." After speaking this aloud, I am able to recognize more clearly that I'm believing a lie that opposes what God has said. 
  3. Laugh at the lie and release it – To laugh, we need to let go of something. Psalm 2:4 says, "He who sits in the heavens laughs." In this Psalm, God is laughing at what His enemies are saying and planning. Laughter is a powerful spiritual weapon that helps break off the power of the lies.
  4. Identify and speak the truth in place of the lie – "The truth will make you free," (John 8:32). The renewing of our minds ultimately happens when I say, "I am choosing not to believe THAT anymore, but rather I am believing THIS." For instance, if I'm believing the lie that I'm only anointed when I feel anointed, I would declare the truth like this: "Regardless of how I feel in a moment, I am anointed at all times."  
  5. Rehearse this truth in thoughts and speech – We don't make a path through a forest by walking through it once. This is also true as we develop new strongholds in our thinking. As we begin to think and declare God's truth in an area, greater levels of freedom will grow from inside of us, and then start to manifest in our experience. 

For more on this great topic, I suggest my books Let's Just Laugh at That and Declarations.

Also, click the button below to listen to me share on this topic on the Igniting Hope podcast:


resources to renew 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.

100 Declarations a Day?

100 Declarations a Day?

by Steve Backlund

 

We are celebrating our 100th podcast episode on the Igniting Hope podcast (you can listen to it here)! It is a milestone we are excited about. The podcast has become one of the most popular aspects of our ministry.  

In this week's podcast, I share about our 30 Day Declaration Experiment in June, when we challenge people to do a life "experiment" by speaking at least 100 declarations a day for a month. The testimonies we've received from doing this in the past have been powerful. Watch for more details on this challenge in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, you can build your faith about declarations by reading some of our previous blog posts about them, below:

5 Outcomes of Doing June's Declarations Experiment (2017 post)

6 Biblical Reasons for Making Declarations

Giant Killers Make Declarations

Declarations Move Mountains


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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.

It Will Get Easier

It Will Get Easier

(Overcoming the “it will always be a struggle” lie)

by Steve Backlund

 

This week on the Igniting Hope podcast and blog, I felt to share about this powerful word and promise about our futures: It will get easier. Maybe you've been pursuing growth in an area of your life like health or developing a new skill that challenges you (like public speaking), and are feeling discouraged. I hope this blog infuses you with the hope and truth that as a son or daughter of God, it is your nature to continually grow to higher levels. Today, we're casting out the lie that "it will always be a struggle." You are a mighty overcomer!

Here's an excerpt from my book Victorious Mindsets on this topic:

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

I noticed something the other day as I rode my bike up the hill to my house. I became aware that this “uphill journey” was getting easier and easier for me. What used to be hard is now becoming painless.

I’ve been riding consistently from my house to the church and back for about three months now. Even though it is a short ride, there is “the hill” that must be overcome to get home. This hill seemed like a great mountain when I first tried to conquer it. I remember my heart pounding, my legs feeling like rubber, my lungs burning, and thinking I was going to pass out (as I gasped for air) after getting to the summit of this lofty land mass. I wondered if the pain was worth it.

In spite of this initial trauma, I suddenly realized that it is now not that difficult at all. My body has adjusted to the demands placed on it. My muscles have strengthened, and my lungs are able to cope with the higher demands of exercise. Truly, God has made our bodies for increase.

As I pondered this experience, I realized that there is great truth in this beyond exercising. Our Creator has made us so that things will get easier when we keep “pressing toward the goal” of building “muscle” in different areas of life. For instance, we may feel like we are going to faint when we first speak in front of a group; but as we keep pressing into this, it will get easier. This is

also true for areas like controlling our temper, overcoming fear, giving a prophetic word, evangelizing, tithing, speaking the truth in love, or choosing to think at a higher level about life and our self.

When we press into superior ways of living, our soul will probably say, “You’re killing me! This pain is too great. Go back to your old way of living where it is safe and comfortable for me!” Ha ha! I am glad that we don’t have to listen to this. Indeed, we should tell our soul, “It may be painful now, but it will get easier because that is the way God has made me. I am going to keep pressing toward the goal of God’s upward call into greater dimensions of His glory and purpose. So, Soul, get over it!”

Thank the Lord right now and say, “It will get easier.”

To listen to this message on our podcast, click the button below:


More Resources to Ignite Hope


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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.

Partnering With What God is Doing

Partnering With What God is Doing

Steve Backlund

 

"We don't build a structure and ask God to fill it, but we see what God is doing and build a structure around that." – Paul Manwaring

I love this quote. It guided so much of our priorities and decision-making when I worked with Paul (2008 to 2016) in Global Legacy, an organization birthed out of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. It is not only a powerful truth for organizations, but also for individuals.

Embracing this belief will cause us to: 

  • Become more spiritually aware
  • Resist simply duplicating the past
  • Overcome religious traditions and dead works

Jesus modeled this for us. "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19).

There are many biblical examples of people building a structure around what God was doing. Here are three:

  • David defeating Goliath – He built victory around utilizing his sling instead of Saul's armor, which was first given to him (I Samuel 17).
  • The feeding of the 5,000 – Provision was released when the disciples built around serving the small amount of fish and bread as Jesus asked them to (Matthew 14).
  • Paul healing a man in Acts 14 – While Paul was preaching, he saw that a certain man had faith to be healed. He spontaneously built his ministry in that part of his message around something he saw God doing in an individual. 

As I write this blog, I am sensing the Lord causing you to look up and see what He is doing right now in your life. There is something to build around now. "Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (John 4:35).

We can apply this truth with: 

  • Ourselves – Instead of constantly focusing on changing our negative behaviors, it is wiser to find what God is blessing in our lives and build around that. And instead of bemoaning closed doors we are experiencing, let's look up and see where we have favor. As we focus on these things (no matter how small), we will position our lives and assignments around what He is doing. 
  • Our family and closest relationships – What relationship is God highlighting to you to primarily invest in? What activities with family and friends creates the greatest result? What prayers and declarations have the most power to impact your relationships?
  • Our ministries and organizations – Who is God blessing right now in our ministry? How can we build around what is happening in them? What unusual coincidences am I seeing that is indicating a direction for us as an organization? 

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," (Matthew 4:4). The quality of our life is linked to our hearing the "proceeding" word from God. What is He saying now? As we hear and "see" this, we will enter into the fullness of His grace to build structures and habits to increase this in exponential ways. 

For more on this subject, click the button below to hear this podcast episode:


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

Four Areas Where I Have Battled Shame

Four Areas Where I Have Battled Shame

by Steve Backlund

 

Shame is "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety," (Miriam-Webster Dictionary). We have all experienced it in some way, though many of us fail to acknowledge or even recognize this negative emotion we're feeling. Many of us wrongly believe feelings of shame we are experiencing are truths about our identity rather than negative emotions resulting from believing lies. Shame begins to lose its foothold in our lives as we establish beliefs about our identity based on who God says we are, and as we begin to authentically bring that shame to the light.

Whenever I thought of shame, I tended to focus on major wrong things we did that caused guilt. And even though this is a part of shame's attacks, it is not the most common way most experience this emotion. Let me illustrate this by listing four areas where I have had to battle shame. They certainly are not the only areas, but it will give you an idea of what I am talking about:

  1. Shame Concerning My Appearance – This was especially true in my life when I was a child and teenager. I felt I was too white (I never tanned well). I blushed frequently which was very embarrassing, I was rather skinny, and I thought I was not that impressive-looking when I took my shirt off (ha ha).
  2. Shame Concerning My Level of Education – I did not graduate from university (a story I may share someday). I felt shame in sharing this with those who had graduated.
  3. Shame Concerning the Possessions I Owned – Whether it was my car, my clothes, my house, or something else, I would often struggle emotionally when people saw where I was at in life. I would think, "I should be farther along in being 'successful,' but I am not!"
  4. Shame for Mistakes I Have Made – These include poor financial decisions, relationships problems I caused, and just plain embarrassing things I have done. 

I am sure you can relate to these. We all will experience some or all of these to some level. 

What I have found is this: when we talk about our feelings of shame, it starts freeing us to overcome its hold on us. When we understand that we all battle shame in some form or another, it gives us compassion for others, and for ourselves. Authenticity and vulnerability are two big antidotes to defeat shame!

I highly recommend Brene Brown's material regarding shame, especially her book The Gifts of Imperfections. 

For more on my own thoughts regarding shame, listen to my podcast episode below:


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

Declarations Are Not Working for Me

Declarations Are Not Working for Me

by Steve Backlund

 

My wife Wendy and I have been transformed by making declarations (faith statements about God's promises for our lives). Much of what we are experiencing today is because of what we said 20 years ago. We spoke things higher than what we experiencing, and it changed our experience. 

Even though we have gotten great breakthrough through declarations, there are still some areas where our experience has yet to catch up with our proclamations. It would appear that they are not working. I know we are not the only ones with this experience, as I have spoken with people who say, "Declarations are not working for me."

If this is your experience, here are four things to consider to help you persevere in your declarations journey: 

  1. Consider the Power of Spiritual Laws – Just are there are natural laws like the law of gravity that will work for everyone, there are spiritual laws that will work for everyone as well. Solomon discovered these laws and shared about them often in the book of Proverbs. Speaking life is a law of the spirit. It is impossible to speak life and not eventually see the effect of it. 
  2. Consider Thermostats – We don't say thermostats are not working if the temperature does not immediately match the degree to which we've set it. Again, if we are going to experience something greater, we will need to say something higher than what we are experiencing. Our words will set a new temperature of our lives (Proverbs 18:21; James 3:2-5).
  3. Consider Hearing Wisdom That Results From Your Declarations – We don't have something just by saying something, but saying something is necessary to having something. When we start declaring God's truths over an area of our lives, it gives the Holy Spirit something to work with. In Genesis 1, the Spirit was "hovering over the face of the deep" and only started turning disorder to order when He heard the Father's declarations of "let there be light." Part of the Spirit's moving through our declarations was to give us ideas to bring the transformation we desire. This is called supernatural wisdom, and we should expect it. 
  4. Consider Adjusting Your Declaration – Sometimes we don't let God upgrade what we are saying. When we cooperate with Holy Spirit to inspire us to speak different phrases regarding an area of our life, we will find ourselves saying catalytic things to break any blockages to seeing God manifest in great ways. 

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." (Galatians 6:9).

For more on this topic, listen to my podcast here. 


 
 

If you're not already signed up for Level 2 of the Lent Negativity Fast, you can now receive all Level 2 resources ($65) for $20 until March 25!


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

Hearing Something Higher Than What We Are Experiencing

Hearing Something Higher Than What We Are Experiencing

by Steve Backlund

 

What we believe greatly influences what we will experience. Romans 12:2 says, "Be transformed by the renewing of the mind." Current mind renewal creates future experience. This is true in both the positive and the negative. I used to only renew my mind with my feelings and my past experience, rehearsing in my mind over and over things that weren't true according to the Word of God, but felt very true to me, like: "I feel overwhelmed. I'm a poor decision-maker. My prayers for my nation aren't working. I'm never going to change." As a result of renewing my mind with these lies, I simply recreated my past again and again. The Lord has shown me there is a superior way to live – The highest level of spiritual warfare is to think at a higher level than what we are currently experiencing.

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Truly, the greatest strongholds hindering the purposes of God are not regional demonic principalities, but negative belief systems in the minds of Christians. 

The nature of faith is to think and speak truths that are superior to the facts of our experiences. Though we shouldn't deny our past experience, we cannot get our beliefs from them. If we do, we will create self-limiting strongholds by renewing our minds with lies instead of truth.  

If we are going to experience something different, we need to believe something different. And if we are going to believe something different, we need to hear something different (something higher than what has happened in our lives). One of the purposes of New Testament prophetic ministry is to pull down and dismantle the stronghold of past experience in the lives of those who hear the prophetic word.

In Judges 6, Gideon heard the angel's prophecy that he was a "mighty warrior." Gideon was certainly not living as a mighty warrior, but it was still the truth about him. At first, this word did not seem to penetrate his thinking, but like a seed, it took root and started growing within him and a nation was saved as a result. "Faith comes by hearing" (Romans10:17). As we hear something higher than what we are experiencing, it will start a process (like it did for Gideon) that changes our beliefs and eventually transforms our future into God's promises manifesting in our lives. 

Here are some ways we activate this higher level of hearing: 

  1. Hearing and sharing testimonies
  2. Speaking declarations
  3. Reading scripture out-loud
  4. Listening to hope-filled messages
  5. Listening to faith-filled worship music
  6. Associating with overcomers and great influencers

There is no limit to how much truth we can hear, so there is no limit to how much we can be transformed. Now, that is good news! For more on this topic, listen to this message on my podcast, below:


Tools from for Higher-Level Thinking


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

What I Learned Through Nevada Wolfpack Football

What I Learned Through Nevada Wolfpack Football

by Steve Backlund

 

I love sports and have learned so much through participating in and coaching sports through the years. Athletics has the power to teach us vital character skills for life: teamwork, commitment, leadership, hard work, mental focus in times of pressure, overcoming adversity, dealing with defeat, finding your role within a team, and developing the ability to be coached. 

Many years ago the Lord spoke to me about spiritual growth through my favorite collegiate sports team, The University of Nevada Wolf Pack. Their college football team moved to NCAA Division 1A in 1992 after a very successful stint in the lower division 1AA. Initially, after advancing to this highest NCAA competition level in collegiate football, they did not "succeed" as well as they had in 1AA. Initially after graduating to the highest NCAA competition level in collegiate football, they did not "succeed" as well as they had in 1AA. The better teams they played against exposed their weaknesses and shortcomings, and they started to lose much more than they had in the past. Some would say that it was a poor decision to move up to this higher level of competition because there was more apparent failure than before. After all, isn't the goal of sports (and life) to never fail or even appear to be losing? Let's just laugh at that – HA HA! 

I attended a Wolf Pack football game in 2005 when they were playing Fresno State, a highly ranked team in their division. Though Nevada was the big underdog of the game, they won! It was a victory that proved they belonged at this higher level of competition. As I reflected on this, I heard the Lord say to me, "Steve, I want you to lead a Division 1 life and ministry. I want you to go a higher level and not be afraid of what may appear like failure as you do."

Those who succeed most also seem to fail most. Winston Churchill said, "Success is moving from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." We must understand that as we "grow into" our true potential, we won't do it perfectly at first. Just as a toddler "fails" many times in learning to walk, we too will struggle as we seek to walk in Division 1, or top level joy, hope, heart connections, and greater discipline in our lives. If we do not embrace struggle as part of the process, we will lower our lifestyle and ministry down to a level that is comfortable for us (and never reach our true potential).

The Nevada Wolf Pack's decision to pursue a higher level has taught me to not be afraid of the process and time it takes to "belong" at a new, higher level. My prayer is that you too will embrace this process and any seeming "failures" you may experience on the journey to greater growth and maturity the Lord is calling you to. May you discover that He's calling you to this higher place because you were made not only to exist at this level, but succeed and thrive there.

For more, listen to my podcast on this topic by clicking the button below:


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

The Science of Hope

The Science of Hope

by Steve Backlund

 

“Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so,”  – Dr. Shane Lopez

“Hope is the leading indicator of success in relationships, academics, career, and business—as well as of a healthier, happier life," – Dr. Lopez

 

I love the topic of hope. Our ministry name, Igniting Hope, might give that away.

I read the following in Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing website:

"If someone asked you to describe 'hope,' what words would come to mind? Optimism? Dreams? Plain old wishful thinking?

How about this: hope is 'the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.'"

That’s the definition used by Dr. Shane Lopez, senior scientist at Gallup, who also wants us to know how useful hope can be. “Hope is the leading indicator of success in relationships, academics, career, and business—as well as of a healthier, happier life,” he says.

Dr. Lopez is spearheading fascinating new research showing that not only is hope good for your wellbeing, but it’s a measurable quality that can be increased with practice.

His new book, Making Hope Happen, discusses the science behind hope and describes practical ways to improve your wellbeing by nurturing a positive, active approach to live. As I read through some other research, I found these powerful thoughts*:

Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned. Hope can be shared with others. 

Highly hopeful people believe...

  • The future will be better than the present. 
  • I have the power to make it so. 
  • There are many paths to my goals. 
  • None of them is free of obstacles.

Hope is a social gift, in that...

  • Highly hopeful people inspire hope in others. 
  • Highly hopeful leaders engender hope in the organization. 
  • Highly hopeful managers have higher performing work units, higher retention rates and more satisfied employees.

These are fascinating and inspiring truths. If you want to learn more about hope, listen to my podcast called “The Science of Hope" or read an article by Dr. Shane Lopez here.

* Making Hope Happen, Shane Lopez, Ph.D. • The Psychology of Hope, Snyder • Dr. Chan Hellman, University of Oklahoma (some slides) • Akshay Malik, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 3, Issue 10, October 2013 1 ISSN 22501-3153


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

4 Keys to “No Limits” Living

4 Keys to “No Limits” Living

By Steve Backlund
 

"If God wanted us to think small for our lives, He did a bad job." I enjoy saying this phrase when I speak because it helps jolt listeners, including myself, into believing bigger for themselves and for others.  

I have, however, not always believed this, and it seems that many others might have a hard time believing this as well.

6 Reasons We Place Limits on Our Lives:

  1. Hearing and believing lies instead of truth (John 8:32)

  2. Getting our identity and beliefs from past experience instead of what God says

  3. Fear of disappointment

  4. Fear of failure

  5. Old Covenant mindset

  6. Believing God has predestined our lives with limitations


There are many scriptural truths that will take limitations off of our thinking and lives. One of them revolves around the phrase "with the measure you use it, it will be measured back to you." This principle reveals that the "measure" we bring in keys areas of life greatly influences our future. Because there is not a limit to what we can sow, then there is not a limit to what we can experience.

We are not predestined to mediocrity! Our past does not determine our future. That is good news indeed.

Here are four "measures" for us to give God a lot to work with:

The measure of renewing our minds with truth
"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God' (Romans 12:2). Because there is no limit to how much I can renew my mind, then there is no limit on my potential transformation.

The measure of our giving
"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). Whatever we give away, we will receive back. If we give mercy, we will receive mercy. If we give finances, we will receive finances.

The measure of our believing
"So He asked his father, 'How long has this been happening to him?' And he said, 'From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.' Jesus said to him, 'If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!'”(Mark 9:21-24). The father thought the deliverance of his son was determined by Jesus willingness, but Jesus said there was no limit to what he could experience if he believed. The man got revelation on this and asked Jesus to help him believe.

The measure of our hearing
"Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given" (Mark 4:24).   Wow! It implies that our future abundance is tied to what we hear. Because there is no limit to the measure of what we can hear, there is no limit to what we can receive in our lives.  There are a couple of ways that I can increase what I am hearing:  1) I can do 100 declarations a day for a month over my own life. 2) I can listen to other people’s teachings, like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers. When I hear other people, I’ll find out that it’s hard to think lies when I’m listening to a lot of truth. There is no limit to the measure of our hearing.

We can create a “no limits” mindset. The lifestyle of no limits - means renewing our mind with higher thinking and then inviting God to be and do even more than we can imagine.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us," (Ephesians 3:20).

There is no convenient season to become joyful. Choose joy today.


Sign up for Beliefs Training

If you're signed up for the 2018 Lent Negativity Fast, we have Beliefs Training sessions with an Igniting Hope Beliefs Trainer also available for sign up! This is a great opportunity for breakthrough in a specific belief area in your life through personalized, one-on-one training.


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

Proclaiming Liberty to the Captives

Proclaiming Liberty to the Captives

By Steve Backlund

 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound”
(Isaiah 61:1)


 

It is fascinating to me to look at what Jesus addressed first in his ministry – preaching good tidings to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty to the captives, and opening prison doors (deliverance)  are the first four things that Jesus chose to address. I usually find that I can glean keys for walking in the anointing of God if I follow His example. I love preaching good news to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, and deliverance, but I especially like proclaiming liberty to the captives. It is a great secret for breakthrough and kingdom advancement. What would happen if we radically started making proclamations of freedom to those who are in a captive experience?

Jesus did this in Luke 13:11-13:

“And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.’ And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”

Note that Jesus proclaimed freedom over her before he released healing. He said, “You are loosed” when she was still in the experience of being captive to sickness.

One of the most powerful spiritual laws is this: if something is going to happen, something must be spoken. We won’t have something just by saying something, but saying something is necessary to having something.

Note these powerful verses about the power of words:

Proverbs 18:21 - “Death and life are in the power of the tongue." If we want to experience life in dead or captive areas of our life, we must proclaim life first.

Ephesians 4:29 - “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Our words impart grace, which is the empowerment to do God’s will. Our focus is not to speak to people’s understanding but to speak believing than an impartation of grace is being released into those who are listening to us.

I Corinthians 14:1 - “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” Prophecy is to be the greatest gift pursued. In my opinion, the highest level of prophecy is illustrated in Romans 4:17b where it says “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” As we proclaim freedom, we prophesy life.

There are many ways people and regions are in captivity:
...captive in emotions
...captive in poverty
...aptive to addictions
...captive to victim mindsets
...captive to relational dysfunction
...captive to spiritual blindness

Somebody has to speak and declare freedom to those who are experiencing captivity.

So how do we practically apply this message?

  • Start with ourselves - proclaiming freedom to ourselves in areas where we seem to be a captive. Tell ourselves we are free from addictive behavior, poor decision making, poverty, shame, etc. It is not the only thing we will do concerning these areas, but it is one of the most important.

  • Prophesy to others - Tell others who they really are. Use clear identity statements in these words. “You are an overcomer.” “You are a person of freedom.” “You are a great influencer.”

  • Speak life to “dry bones” circumstances (Ezekiel 37) - In every situation possible, declare life. As you drive by a school, say “You are a revival school.” As you hear bad news about your nation, say “Nation, you are free and prospering.”
     

Ask Holy Spirit for more wisdom on this - He will guide you into great things.


It's Not Too Late to Join!


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

5 Reasons to Do the Negativity Fast with Other People

5 Reasons to Do the Negativity Fast with Other People

by Steve Backlund

 

We are about to start our 40-day Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast on February 14! If you are reading this blog after the fast has passed, I suggest that you buy my book Igniting Faith in 40 Days and read the instructions at the beginning of the book to do the negativity fast on your own.

If you are considering doing the Negativity Fast this year with us, why not do it together with a group of people?  We find that those who do the fast with at least one accountability partner or in small groups, seem to experience the most transformation and the most radical testimonies.  Jesus sent out the disciples two by two. There is something exponentially greater that happens when we partner with someone else.  The Bible says that one can put 1000 to flight, but two can put 10,000 to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30).

Our Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast is a transformation school for renewing your mind.

There are two different levels available:

  • Level 1 (free) that includes a daily email on how to maximize the fast and feast
  • Level 2 ($35) that includes:
    • Daily podcasts from me (Steve) including my additional thoughts to encourage you. This is great for those who prefer listening to a podcast message than reading a daily email.
    • A PDF of my book Igniting Faith in 40 Days which inspired the annual Lent Negativity Fast.
    • My steps and tools for breakthrough. These are the steps I use when leading myself and others into long-term breakthrough in their lives through beliefs.
    • Abounding Hope & Joy Curriculum, a six-part audio series and a daily podcast with additional thoughts to encourage you.

Years ago I was fasting food, and I heard the Lord say, “Steve, your food fasts are not doing much good. I love your heart to set yourself apart for me, but the positive of your food fast + the negative of your general overall negativity actually = a big 0.  I’ve got a suggestion for you, go on a 40-day negativity fast.”

Lent is a time, each calendar year before Easter, where people are used to giving up something for the 40 days of Lent as a way to help get closer to God.  So we thought we’d try giving up negativity and feasting on positivity.

The top five reasons to do the fast with others are:

  1. It will help those you do it with. We need to do something to proactively break out of spiritual ruts. As we consider ways to see breakthrough in other people’s lives, the negativity fast is one way to give God a lot to work with in other people’s lives.  As we seek to love people, one way to do that is to invite them to events that are actually going to get at the root of problems that they are having. This will be a catalyst to help them enter into their dreams.
  2. It will help you stay consistent. In Proverbs 27:17 it says, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” There is something about doing something like this Negativity Fast with someone else. It helps us keep accountable on the days that we don’t feel like doing it. It will help us run farther in life if we are in community with forward-moving people.
  3. It will increase your revelation of the fast truths. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”  When we gather in the name of Jesus, what happens is that Jesus, through the Holy Spirit manifests Himself with the revelation of truth. If we share what we each see in the scripture, it reveals more about Jesus. Truth is like a multi-dimensional diamond. 
  4. It will increase your influence.  When we start intentionally reaching out to influence others, causing people to connect with their giftings and callings, we are doing something so great. In Mark 6:37 the disciples have thousands of people who need to be fed, and Jesus says “You give them something to eat.” When the fish and bread that they had to Jesus. He multiplied it. When we give the Lord our seemingly small thing to bless other people, He multiplies it. The same applies to this fast - whatever we sacrifice for others to help them do the fast, God is going to increase it. If you touch one person, they will touch someone, and there will be a faith domino effect.
  5. It will create momentum in the spirit realm. Joshua and Caleb had each other, they were on a Negativity Fast and Positivity feast of their own in Numbers 13 & 14, they were in a negative culture. They broke out of the pack of pessimists and encouraged each other. The momentum in their situation was strategic for the nation of Israel’s history because two people said “I’m not going to give into this pessimism. I’m going to feast on the promises of God. I’m not denying the facts, I’m just going to believe in God’s truth that is higher than the facts.”

Pray for us as we go on this fast together, that this time would be a catalyst in what God is going to do all around the world right now.  We are at a critical time in history in all of our nations. What if the future of our nations didn’t depend on the government leaders or terrorist activity, what if instead it depended on the beliefs of Christians?

What if we chose to take a risk and actually believe the promises of God over ourselves, our families, and our nations and walked the people that we lead into the promised land as Christians?  It only takes one or two people to believe the promises of God, for it to go well with a nation or nations – Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, David – the list goes on.  


Grab a friend and join us on February 14!


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

A Daily Habit That Will Change Your Life

A Daily Habit That Will Change Your Life

 –  Building Belief Muscles  – 

by Steve Backlund

 

This daily habit will change your life – responding to the negative circumstances you face with godly beliefs, actively building your spiritual belief muscles. If we actively choose to disarm the enemy’s lies and respond to the negative, “oh no!” situations we encounter each day with God’s truth and His perspective, not only will negative circumstances begin to affect us less emotionally, spiritually, and even physically, but we will also learn to extract the spiritual benefits hidden within each daily challenge, and build up our belief muscles in the process. I've found that building your spiritual belief muscles daily is the key to strengthening yourself to impenetrable faith long-term.

We all face various negative circumstances on a daily basis and when these these occurrences happen, we’re presented with a powerful choice (and opportunity). We can either:

Grow weaker by agreeing with the negative and increasing its weightiness through...

  • Rehearsing lies we’re believing about ourselves, God, other people, or the hopelessness of the circumstances.

  • Exacerbating the potential negative results, OR,

Grow stronger by agreeing with God and counteracting the weight of negative circumstances with...

  • Biblical, healthy beliefs about ourselves, God, the circumstances we’re facing, and other people in our lives.

  • Asking God what He is doing and declaring His Truth instead of declaring and rehearsing the negative.

The power available to us is in the daily choice.

We can see this concept at work in Nehemiah 6, when Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Three harassing spirits are bothering Nehemiah and ask him to come down to the valley of Ono. Nehemiah responds, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:30).

Many of us go through daily life just trying to avoid challenges or “oh no’s”, but I am trying to develop a different habit in my life. What if my current life situation is just training for my bigger purpose? If so, then each day is a simply a training workout in which each “oh no” I encounter is intended to strengthen me to fulfill my calling.

So, rather than attempting to avoid “oh no’s”, what if we intentionally focused in on these challenges in our daily lives the same way an athlete focuses in on building specific muscle groups in weight-lifting? If I allow myself to become aware of each “oh no,” I’ll begin to understand which belief muscle God trying to build in me based on the “oh no.” Instead of passively allowing these negative circumstances to happen, I recognize when they happen each day and extract the benefits God was making available to me through that challenge.

Then, I can reflect upon what caused me to descend from my place of faith, hope, and love throughout the day and ask myself and the Lord questions to build that muscle further, like: What were circumstances that caused me to become hopeless? How did my emotions, energy levels, and thought patterns respond to those circumstances? Are there any lies that I am repeating to myself when those circumstances happen? What benefits is God making available to me in these “oh no’s” that I can extract to build my belief muscles?

Often, when we’re heading down into the valley of “oh no,” the enemy likes to play negative self-talk tapes in our heads on repeat with phrases like:

  • “You’re never going to get it.”
  • “You should be afraid.”
  • “There is something uniquely wrong with you.”

These lying tapes of failure, condemnation, and hopelessness have to go. As we put our trust in God and His word, new tapes of what He is saying over us, in us, and through us will replace the repetitive lies of the enemy.  

For example, when I watch the news and see something happening politically that I don’t like, I notice my joy begins to decline and a spirit of heaviness descends upon me. In that place, and over many years, I’ve learned to ask, “God, what are you building in me that is more important than this actual situation?” He’s told me things like:

  • Belief that my prayers for my nation are actually working.
  • Belief that no matter what happens, I will thrive and can do all things through Christ.
  • Belief that it is my mission to love my "enemies" and pray for those I would wish to criticize (thus building the muscle of love).

Each day, I’m learning that my response to something is almost always more important than the something that occurs. I’m learning how to prosper in my soul beyond what is happening to me. I’m learning to take biblical truths and make them daily thought patterns and to build belief muscles by pressing in toward what is resisting my joy each day.

As you begin to intentionally build your beliefs muscles and see from God’s perspective more and more each day, you’ll find you begin facing each “oh no” not with hopelessness and resistance, but with joy and as a purposeful opportunity to strengthen your faith. You become the great spiritual maximizer who finds strength in all things, particularly your obstacles.


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

Change the Channel

Change the Channel

by Steve Backlund

 

Radios are incredible machines – they have the ability to tune into communication that is already in the atmosphere. Right now, all around us, are radio transmissions we can’t hear unless we have the right equipment and tune into the right station. This is true both spiritually and physically – we are all tuned into something in the spiritual realm, similar to a radio wave or channel.

Frequently, many of us accidentally tune into the wrong channels in the spirit, like:

  • “The accuser of the brethren” channel

  • “You are who your past says you are” channel

  • “Don’t get your hopes up” pessimism channel

  • “You are a victim” channel

But God has life-giving, identity-releasing channels for you. How do we know if we are listening to the wrong channel? We can check ourselves with a quick hope self-test. If what we are listening to doesn’t give us hope for ourselves, for others, for our nation, or for our circumstances, then we are listening to the wrong channel.

Also, if our interpretation of Scripture doesn’t give us hope, then we are listening to the wrong channel in how we interpret the Bible. For example, we can perceive the Bible from an old covenant perspective that causes us to fear punishment. We can listen to the “you’ve been disappointed” channel and our past hurts can also cause us to interpret the Bible in a flawed manner.

If we’re not interpreting Scripture with hope, we’re listening to the wrong channel.

Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The moment we believe truth and properly interpret the Bible we should abound in hope; it should overflow from our mouths as our first response.

It says in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” So the more that we believe that God is faithful, the more hope-filled we will be. I’m not into positive thinking, I’m into biblical optimism.  Continuing on in Hebrews 10:24-25, it reads, “Let us consider one another and stir up love and good works, encouraging one another all the more as you see the day approaching.”We must first encourage ourselves, and be encouraged by what we are hearing. We have to make sure we’re listening to the right channel, one that stirs the desire in us to rise up and overcome.

There are so many people in the Bible that changed channels in the spirit to hear something else. Gideon was listening to the victim channel, to the “I’m stuck” channel, and the “I’ve got to protect myself” channel. But he chose to tune into something different when the angel of the Lord began speaking identity over him, calling him a “mighty man of valor.” Jacob was also listening to the wrong channel and in Genesis 32 wrestled with the angel, saying he wouldn’t let the angel go until he blessed him. This blessing was a revelation that his name, and identity, would be changed from “deceiver” (Jacob) to “Prince with God” (Israel).

Jeremiah was also given an assignment and a calling but he was listening to the “I’m only a youth” channel, so God asked him to change channels. Abraham changed channels several times, including in Genesis 17 where he received a name change from “exalted father” (Abram) to “father of many nations” (Abraham). This new name tuned Abraham into his biblical identity, not based on his past, but based on God’s promises over his life.

Are the channels you’re listening to giving you hope? If not, some channel adjustments need to be made.

Listen to these stations instead to restore your hope based on God’s truth and His perspective:

  • Your true, biblical identity

  • You are not who your past says you are

  • You are forgiven and in right-standing with God

  • God will finish what He started in you (Philippians 1:6)

  • God is going to change and grow what needs to be changed in you

  • You have a future and a hope because vision for the future gives power and purpose for the present

Today, I bless you to recognize any stations you may be tuned into that are robbing you of your true identity and God’s perspective of your life. You can do it. Tune in to that which gives you hope.


Upcoming Opportunities to Ignite Your Hope


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

Extracting Life From Your Challenges

Extracting Life From Your Challenges

by Steve Backlund

 

In 2 Peter 1:4, it says that we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises. Through these promises, we might participate in the divine nature and a supernatural life.  One of the greatest of these promises is Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

This scripture has special meaning to all of us.  It says that whatever happens to us, whether it is a choice that we made or something out of our control, God can turn it to incredible good when we commit ourselves to His purpose.  What a blessing!  

This applies to:

...difficult childhoods

...addictive behaviors

...things that happen to us or around us

...things happening in our nation

...and many more

In general, this scripture brings hope that something good is going to happen!  What would happen if we tried "working out" this belief in life?  At Igniting Hope Ministries, we have developed what we call Beliefs Trainers.  We especially use them during our Negativity Fast and Positivity Feast, which starts on February 14, 2018, for 40 days (scroll below to learn more). 

My vision is that the world would catch a hold of the passion to work-out our beliefs and that this passion would exceed even the discipline of exercising our physical body.  Bodily exercise is so important, and our physical, emotional, and mental health definitely profit from the workouts; but what if exercising our beliefs could be even more profitable to our overall health?  What if exercising our beliefs has even more value because it also positively impacts our descendants?  

I’ve been thinking about what beliefs to work out.  We understand from physical weight-lifting, that as we push against resistance, we build muscle and increase strength.  What if the same thing holds true for our belief-systems?  Muscle is built in the spirit realm when we experience resistance against our joy, resistance against our dreams, resistance against our abundant life.  Those things in themselves have something in them.  All things work together for good.  So, what I’ve been doing is taking inventory of my emotions when I wake up in the morning.  When I find areas that I feel fear, worry, or frustration, I flip my mindset to see them as something that I can extract life from. The key is to ask, “Lord, what are you doing in me that is connected to that?”  “What can I extract out of this challenge in life or in my emotions?”

For example, what if I wake up in the morning and I feel like a failure?  Maybe I have a situation in my life that says I am failing, but the Word says that I am:

...more than a conqueror

…going to prosper in all things

…can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

By pressing against that negative feeling of failure, I have an opportunity to extract powerful good from that circumstance.  I make war with scriptural truths.  I make war with scriptural truths.  Resisting, then, actually strengthens my faith muscle.

One of the keys to successful living is to ask God these two questions:

  • What are you doing in me that is related to the frustration, fear, or negative emotion that I am having?  
  • And what truth are You building in me that is going to be so good for my future? 

Remember, there are no hopeless circumstances, there are only hopeless people.  Once people get true hope, the circumstances can’t stay the same.


Join us for 40 days of hope-infusing beliefs!


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.

5 Reasons to Celebrate Your Progress

5 Reasons to Celebrate Your Progress

by Steve Backlund

 

Just as we celebrate a toddler who is making progress learning to walk, we are to celebrate our own progress.  With toddlers, we focus on what they are doing well, instead of dwelling on what they are not doing.  The same strategy will work well in learning to step into new areas of growth in our lives. Our gifts will get stronger.

 

Why don’t we normally celebrate progress?

1.  We might believe that if we don’t use guilt and condemnation to motivate ourselves, we might think we are okay and stop working on things.  However, these motivation tools will not have a lasting effect.

2.  We may fear that celebration would only lead to pride.  Pride doesn’t mean that you don’t think you’re great; it means that you think you are greater than other people.  But we all need to think we’re great and rise and shine for our light has come.

3.  We also might believe God is not celebrating what we are doing, so why should we? (Galatians 5)  God is celebrating that Jesus died and took our place.  Just as God celebrated Jesus on earth, He is celebrating those who believe in Jesus right now.

 

Here are five momentous reasons for celebrating progress in your life:

1.  It opens your eyes to where grace is manifesting in your life. (Philippians 1:6)   Paul is confident that He who has begun a good work in you, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  I don’t have faith in my ability perform well, I have faith in God’s ability to complete what He started in me and through me.

2.  It helps silence the accuser’s voice of condemnation toward you. (Revelation 12:10; Romans 8:1)  The accuser is cast down, and in Jesus, there is no more condemnation.  One of the greatest weapons the enemy has is to tell you who you are not.  As we celebrate progress in who we are, we silence the enemy.

3.  It creates momentum in your life and something to build on for the future. (Philippians 3:12-14)  When David is fighting Goliath, he rehearsed his victories and celebrated his progress – through this, he gained momentum in his life for the battle that he was facing at that moment. We can celebrate simple things like – Wow! I didn’t get angry as quickly this week at my co-worker.  Try it, and you’ll start to notice negative cycles being broken and positive growth trajectories created.

4.  It increases the joy of the Lord in your life. (Nehemiah 8:10; Proverbs 17:22) As we see the joy of grandparents watching toddlers learn to walk, we can realize the atmosphere of encouragement in which we are designed to thrive.  We need strength in the middle of the journey, not at the end.  Try encouraging yourself in the middle of the journey in your 2018 goals, and see strength build through joy.

5.  It will increase your celebration of others. (Hebrews 10:24)  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  If we celebrate our own progress, we will celebrate the progress of others. We will notice and celebrate the good things that they are doing.  We are called to speak life and encourage others.

 

Try starting 2018 off by having a conversation with God about all of the things He is celebrating you for in 2017.  You’ll be surprised how long your list is, and how good you feel about yourself and your relationship with the Lord afterward!  


Join us for 40 Days of Spiritual Growth

Registration is now open for our 5th annual Lent Negativity Fast!


Steve 2016 2.jpg

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.