Spiritual Growth Week at Toronto City Church

This coming week at Toronto City Church we are doing a Spiritual Growth Week as we lead up to Easter (side note: we are doing a Good Friday Service at 10 a.m. and two identical Resurrection Sunday Services at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday – please consider this an open invite).

Here is the text of the info sheet that we passed out:

Spiritual Growth Week: Holy Week 2014

Easter is such an important season for us as Christians as it gives us the opportunity to reflect on and remember Jesus and all that He has done for us. This year at TCC we would like capitalize upon this opportunity and do a Spiritual Growth Week during what is commonly know as Holy Week (April 14th to 18th, 2014).

In light of this we are calling every member of TCC to join together during this week and do the following:

1) Read
• Read the scriptures each day with a particular focus on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
o Monday: Matthew 26-28
o Tuesday: Mark 14-16
o Wednesday: Luke 22-24
o Thursday: John 18-21
o Friday: Acts 1-2

2) Pray
• Take time each day to pray and focus on Jesus and what He has done for us
• Participate in at least one of the prayer calls

3) Fast
• Fast in some capacity during the week as you are led by the Holy Spirit
• It could be a full food fast, fasting TV & media, fasting a meal, eating just fruit and vegetables etc.

4) Watch
• Watch a daily Video Devotional teaching from Pastor Brendan on http://www.faithfuel.tv

5) Gather
• Good Friday Service on Friday, April 18th at 10:00 a.m.
• Resurrection Sunday Service on Sunday, April 20th at either 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and bring someone who doesn’t know Jesus!

Let’s believe God together for an amazing week of going deeper in the Word of God, in prayer and in our revelation of Jesus and all that He has done for us!

 

Prophetic Dreams for Canada

About a month ago a great minister and friend of mine Kayle Mumby released two prophetic dreams for the nation of Canada. As I have gone over them I believe they bring such a great encouragement and challenge for all of who follow Jesus and I wanted to pass them on (Kayle is actually with us at Toronto City Church this weekend – Saturday night for our Young Adults/Young Professionals Kick-Off and the Sunday morning for our regular service). I encourage you to hear what Holy Spirit would say to you through what Kayle shares.

Feb 19, 2014

In the early morning hours of February 16, 2014 and February 19, 2014 I had two consecutive dreams.

 In the dream of the morning of the 16th, I was taken many years into the future. I was sitting at a large table, which was surrounded by young leaders of the Body of Christ. They were all asking me, in my old age, for the stories of how the great awakening had started which had swept the earth. These were all leaders in what was the greatest revival the world has ever seen. I was an older man, and looked at these young leaders with kindness and began to tell the story of how the global revival began.

“How did the revival start?” they asked me. “We ask because the world is on fire.”

 “It began with the burning ones,” I told this group. “Young men and women would gather together in burning rooms and they began to call out for the fire of God. Houses of prayer and worship were springing up all over the globe and they were known for their fire. They were known as burning rooms, full of burning ones, crying out day and night for the fire of God to sweep the planet.”

 I told many stories of these furnaces of prayer and worship that I had visited all around the planet, in nation after nation. I told of group after group, many of whom nobody had ever heard about, but who had stayed in the place of day and night intercession for the fire of God.

 “There was one place in particular that really set off the unstoppable flood of revival in the nations,” I said. “It began in Vancouver with a young man named Alec Maynard. He called the hungry ones from across the lower mainland to worship and pray every Friday night from 7pm until 9pm. It didn’t seem like a long time to set aside to pray, but they were faithful with this time frame and never missed a Friday evening. Young men and women began to come from all around the region and they would catch the fire from this particular room and it quickly spread as hundreds and hundreds of burning ones would gather every Friday to burn and then take it with them wherever they went. It seemed as if this was the tipping point for the beginning of the awakening that swept the earth. It was hard to tell where it would go to or where it came from next because the fire spread so quickly. All of the burning rooms suddenly exploded with fire and with power. Those who had faithfully given themselves over to burn exploded with an intensity that this world had never seen before. Suddenly, the global revival was upon us. Young men and women would travel across the nations of the earth giving everything to set up these burning rooms and oh how they burned, through thick and thin, they burned. That is how it started. This is how the global fire began to fall.”

As I told the revival history to this group, I would take out old posters advertising the burning rooms, especially from the Vancouver area. The gathering of young leaders were fascinated by these posters, these pieces of revival history that someone had thought to save. They were the markers of history which we could look back on and say, “Remember when this prophetic word was spoken?” or “Remember when we prayed and this happened?”

I sat back and felt such love for these young leaders. I felt like a proud father. I was amazed at the hunger from these ones, and poured into them everything I could from my years of following the Lord and being able to witness the beginnings of the massive revival the world was in. I can remember in my dream the feeling of awe and wonder as I knew that my eyes were finally seeing the promise of what I am currently giving myself entirely over to — world wide revival. The awakening had finally swept the globe.

At this point I woke up. I was stunned and it took me a while to realize I was still in bed and I wasn’t an old man. I was very thankful for this glimpse into the future.

February 18th, as I went to bed, I was inquiring of the Lord about Canada and asked Him if there was anything I needed to be aware of in the nation. That night I received a dream.

I was brought above a map of Canada and watched as pins began to fall in specific locations across the nation. As these pins fell I heard the voice of the Lord speak, “These are strategic locations which are being set up to burn with the fire of God. These are strategic burning rooms. These burning rooms will help set off global awakening and national revival.”

I was then brought close to the map and saw each pin drop specifically. The first area I was brought to was in the east section of Canada between two great lakes. In this first area I saw one pin fall and when it hit the map it turned into many. I knew this was Toronto and I heard “They will catch the fire. They will be full of burning rooms.” The second pin dropped in a place called Port Perry, Ontario. I didn’t hear anything in particular, but my dream was focused for a good amount of time on Port Perry and the importance of what was happening there. Another pin dropped in the far north. I didn’t see or hear a specific location, it was just in the far north. I was then quickly brought west across the map and saw Winnipeg, specifically a point very close to Winnipeg in its south east corner. I heard “Fire will fall on Keith Miners and his network and all he has been labouring with to burn. They will burn. They will be burning ones.” I continued east and I saw Warman, Saskatchewan and this is where the final pin dropped.

There was a particular attention placed on Warman, Saskatchewan. I had to look on a map to see if Warman, SK actually existed. There was a strong emphasis on this location. As I looked at this red pin in my dream I knew that this city was key for the coming awakening of Canada and the world. I heard that it will be a place of the burning ones. It will be a furnace where the fire burns bright and the fire burns with incredible intensity.

I believe the name of Warman is very prophetic. Many prophetic voices have been speaking about another army being released and the weapons of their warfare are love. Bob Jones’ final prophetic word talked about the armoury of God and the Army of God being equipped with love and peace. I believe that Isaiah 42:13 is a key verse right now: “The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies.” In many translations “warrior” in this verse is written as “Man of war” — war man.

The Lord is going to start stirring up His zeal in Warman, Saskatchewan and I believe that what happens from this location will be no small fire. I believe significant, global fire will fall in Warman, SK. I believe that in all of these specific locations which the Lord showed me that we are going to see a radical increase in prayer for revival. The fire will fall.

I believe that if we make ourselves available in the secret place of prayer and as we gather together corporately, wherever we are, to call out for the fire of God that the Burning One from heaven will be released to set fire to the saints assembled. I believe a global burn is about to sweep the nations of the earth. I believe we are on the cusp of the greatest awakening this world has ever seen and our directions are simple – Call out for the fire of God. Burn before Him. Burn with worship, prayer, adoration. Burn with intercession. Burn with faith. Burn with prayer. The time is now to enter into the furnace rooms, the prayer rooms and call for the fire of God. Our War Man will triumph over His enemies… the enemies of sickness, death and sin. He will release the Triumph of our God as established for us in the all surpassing power and victory of the Cross. We will see heaven on earth.

When we turned from 2013 into 2014 I heard the Lord say clearly, “This is the year everything changes.” and I also heard, “Now is the time.” In my life personally this has been true. Since the first week of January 2014 I’ve been on a much more wild ride than usual with the Lord. I’ve been watching as what I have been longing for, praying for, crying out for is finally happening in meeting after meeting I find myself in. Everything is changing. For nearly ten years I’ve been having a series of prophetic encounters across the world all pointing to one thing – global awakening. I have never felt released to speak of these things on a public forum. But that is all changing. Now is the time. I finally feel the release to speak of this. I know what is coming. I’ve been seeing it in dreams, visions and physical visitations for years now. I know what is coming.

If there ever was a time to sow in prayer, the time is now.

The burning rooms will only get stronger. The burning rooms will only become full of more fire. The burning ones will only increase. It’s time to pray.

As a nation, I believe it’s time to find our place between the porch and the altar again. It’s time to find the secret place and call for the fire of God. I would submit that we should come into a place of intercession for these specific locations I was shown in my dream. If they are to play a key role in the global awakening and in the national revival in Canada then I am jealous for this and I want to add my prayers to the longing of heaven and cry out for Warman, for the far north, for Winnipeg, for Toronto and for Port Perry to receive fire unlike this world has ever seen. If they are somehow a tipping point, then let me be the first one to cry out for revival to hit these locations, and then let me cry out for the fire of God to consume me!

As a side note, I did not know at the time I received these dreams, that in Warman, Saskatchewan, this May, a church called “Awakening” will be hosting a worship summit with Sean Feucht, director of the global Burn 24/7 movement. The Warman Awakening Church. What a name…

The fire of God is going to fall. The burning is about to be released. Let us meet before the altar of heaven and finally fill the bowls of intercession. Our War-Man is stirring His zeal. With a shout we will raise the battle cry. We will witness His triumph. We will see heaven on earth. The global awakening is upon us.

I feel a prophetic call to burn. I prophesy fire and holy burning to all who will receive it. Burn, my friends. Burn. Burn with fire from Heaven. Now is the time. Everything is about to change. The fire is not restricted to these locations I saw in my dream. They are key and strategic, but what is more important is our hearts and if they are on fire. May hundreds of thousands of burning rooms spring up across our great nation and the nations of the earth.

Burn, my beloved friends. Burn.

 Kayle Mumby

 

F8 Life Goals Worksheet

This past week at Toronto City Church one of the things I highlighted was the F8 Life Goals Worksheet and I wanted to include it here as well. Basically this worksheet gives you a ‘lense’ to look at your life through and identify goals, priorities and areas of focus. Personally I use it as a framework coming into each year (and really through out the year) to make sure I’m looking at my life holistically and planning for personal growth.

F8 Life Goals Worksheet

There are many good ways to approach setting goals for your life. At Toronto City Church We have learned/developed an approach we call F8 Life Goals. In this approach you look at your life through the lens of eight different categories and set goals for each area. The categories are:

  1. Faith – refers to your personal relationship with God (your ‘faith). In this area you can set goals for your devotional/prayer life, Bible study, fasting, and spiritual growth.
  2. Family – refers to your relationship with your family – spouse, children, extended family etc. In this area you can set goals for investment in your marriage, children, your relationship with parents/siblings and others in your family.
  3. Fruit – is connected to your faith but focuses particularly on  winning and disicipling. How many people do you want to see make commitments to Jesus?
  4. Field – refers to your education and/or career. What do you want to see happen in your job this year? Are you in school? What do you want to accomplish there? Are there things you can do this year to further your career or education (going to a course, reading a book)?
  5. Finances – refers to you personal finances. What is your personal budget? What changes would you like to see this year?
  6. Fitness – refers to your personal health. What are your goals regarding exercise, rest and healthy eating this year?
  7. Friendships – refers to your relationships with those close to you who are not family. What do you want these to look like this year? How are you going to invest in them?
  8. Fun – refers to your personal time of rest and relaxation. Do you have hobbies? What do you do to relax and disconnect? How will you focus on these things this year?

Practical Tips for Setting Goals

Once we have spent some time thinking about what we want in these different areas of our lives it is important that we set S.M.A.R.T. goals so we can actually do it. S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  1. Specific – our goals need to be specific. “I want to be healthy” is not specific enough – what does that really mean? “I want to stop eating fast food, get 8 hours of sleep each night and exercise 4 times per week” is much more specific. Make sure your goals are not general but really outline what you want to achieve.
  2. Measurable – we need to actually be able to measure our goals so we know if we achieved them. “I want to have a great relationship with my wife” is nice but not measurable. “I want to have a date night each week with my wife” is measurable because you can look back and see if you actually did it.
  3. Attainable – we need to make sure that our goals are actually something we can attain or else there is no point in setting them. You need to make sure it is actually possible to attain the goal you are setting out to obtain. Is it legal? Is it physically possible?
  4. Realistic – we need to make sure our goals are grounded in realism. If we set goals that are not realistic we will soon become frustrated and lose the power of setting goals in the first place. It is not realistic to set a goal of being the CEO of a company this year that you’ve been working at for two weeks. It may be realistic to set that goal for 20 years but not this year (Note: this point is superseded by the times we receive a Word from God that we are to believe for something that is not ‘naturally realistic’)
  5. Time-Sensitive – we need to make sure our goals have specific timelines and dates attached to them or else they can very quickly lose their effectiveness. We might have a goal to start saving for a house but we need to decide when will we start, how often we are putting money away, at what point we will stop etc. or else there is no personal accountability.

Some other important notes:

  • Make sure that your goals specifically include what you want to accomplish but also your action plan to get there. A good goal may be to lose 25 pounds but how are you going to do it? You need to set out something like that you are going to cut out all junk/fast food, get a gym pass and work out 4 days a week.
  • If this is your first attempt to set goals don’t be intimidated – maybe take each F8 area and pick one thing that you want to focus on. Master that, and then you can add a couple more. Sometimes we make this great list of 52 goals and then get quickly discouraged when we start missing a bunch of them.
  • It is important that husbands and wives develop personal goals but share them, make sure they are harmonized and develop some corporate goals for their marriage.
  • Learning to think/live this way is not easy at first – if you find it stretching don’t worry, just keep working at it and you will find it gets easier and easier.
  • Make sure that you show your goals to someone and that you are accountable to them to keep up with them.

50 Dynamite Quotes on Prayer

One of the areas we have really been focusing on at Toronto City Church is in prayer – we really believe that we are called to be a “praying church” and not just a church that prays sometimes. In light of this we have really been encouraging people to get connected in weekly Pre-Service Prayer, daily Prayer Conference Calls and monthly Fire Power Prayer (which is happening tonight!). Obviously the foundation of all this is our personal prayer lives before the Lord.

Check out the following quotes to stir your faith/heart in the area of prayer:

“We ought to see the face of God every morning before we see the face of man.” – Dwight L. Moody

“If you have so much business to attend to that you have no time to pray, depend upon it that you have more business on hand than God ever intended you should have.” – Dwight L. Moody

 “A man who prays much in private will make short prayers in public.” – Dwight L. Moody

 “Some men’s prayers need to be cut short at both ends and set on fire in the middle.” – Dwight L. Moody

“We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in His Word, He intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If He has said much about prayer, it is because He knows we have much need of it.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.” – Max Lucado

“What is not accomplished through prayer either should not be done, or else will not matter in eternity.” – Jerry Miller

“God will do nothing on earth except in answer to believing prayer.” – John Wesley

“Never have so many left so much to so few.” – Leonard Ravenhill

“If you are a praying person, you are one of God’s gifts to mankind.” – Unknown

“Prayer is not just getting ready for Christian service. Prayer is Christian service.” – Adrian Rodgers

 “The real victory in all service is won in secret beforehand by prayer.” – S.D. Gordon

“Prayer is not designed to inform God, but… to humble man’s heart, to excite his desire, to inflame his faith, to animate his hope, and to raise his soul from earth to heaven.” – Adam Clarke

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” – Corrie Ten Boom

“The petitions of Moses discomfited the enemy more than the fighting of Joshua. Yet both were needed. No, in the soul’s conflict, force and fervor, decision and devotion, valour and vehemence, must join their forces, and all will be well.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

“We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results.” – R.A. Torrey

Prayer is not a means by which I seek to control God; it is a means of putting myself in a position where God can control me.” – Charles L. Allen

“Prayer is speaking truth to Truth.” – Phillip James Bailey

“Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face with God.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Prayer is an investment. The time you dedicate to prayer isn’t lost; it will return dividends far greater than what a few moments spent on a task ever could. If we fail to cultivate this discipline, prayer winds up being our last resort rather than our first response.” – Charles Swindoll

“Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.” – A.W. Tozer

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” – Samuel Chadwick

“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history.” – Andrew Murray

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” – Charles Spurgeon

“What the church needs today is not machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men of prayer.” And we might add, through women of prayer.” – E.M. Bounds

“Out of a very intimate acquaintance with D.L. Moody, I wish to testify that he was a far greater pray-er than he was preacher.” – R.A. Torrey

“It is obvious that Paul did not regard prayer as supplemental, but as fundamental—not something to be added to his work but the very matrix out of which his work was born. He was a man of action because he was a man of prayer. It was probably his prayer even more than his preaching that produced the kind of leaders we meet in his letters.” – Oswald Sanders, from Dynamic Spiritual Leadership

“A sinning man will stop praying. A praying man will stop sinning.” – Leonard Ravenhill

“Prayer as a relationship is probably your best indicator about the health of your love relationship with God. If your prayer life has been slack, your love relationship has grown cold.” – John Piper

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie Ten Boom

“The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.” – Martin Luther

“Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth, but from falling in love.” – Richard Foster

“Do not attempt to assess the quality of your prayer. God alone can judge its value.” – Macarious of Optino

“Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of God’s willingness.” – Phillips Brooks

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.” – Billy Graham

“Unless I had the spirit of prayer, I could do nothing.” – Charles G. Finney

“Prayer is not a fruitless exercise that God asked us to perform to determine whether or not we’re faithful. Prayer is the vehicle that releases God to move in the earth!” – Joseph Cameneti Sr.

“Prayer is simple, as simple as a child making known its wants to it parents.” – Oswald Chambers

“God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” – John Wesley

“Prayer is striking the winning blow. . . . Service is gathering up the results.” – S.D. Gordon

“God shapes the world by prayer. The prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon earth.” – E.M. Bounds

“Beloved, it is not our long prayers but our believing God that gets the answer.” – John G. Lake

“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do his work through me.” – James Hudson Taylor

 ”Out of a very intimate acquaintance with D.L. Moody, I wish to testify that he was a far greater pray-er than he was a preacher.” – R.A. Torrey

“God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.” – John Wesley

 “To pray is to cast off your burdens, it is to tear away your rags, it is to shake off your diseases, it is to be filled with spiritual vigor, it is to reach the highest point of Christian health.” – C.H. Spurgeon

“I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“You could remove the powerful preaching from our church and it would still continue. You could remove the administration of pastoral care through the cell group system and the church would still continue. But if you remove the prayer life of our church it would collapse.” – David Yonggi Cho

“The character of our praying will determine the character of our preaching. Light praying makes light preaching.” – E.M. Bounds

Bill Johnson: How I Grew in the Healing Anointing

One of men who has really made an impact on my life has been Pastor Bill Johnson who leads Bethel Church in Redding, California. The LORD connected me with his ministry right after my wife and I had gone through a miscarriage and his message on “Revelation and Mystery” totally rocked me – it really solidified in my heart that I could still believe for healing 100% of the time.

For a while I had always said that if I got a chance to ask him one question it would be how he grew in the healing anointing (healing is one of his core messages, at their church they literally see healings and miracles every day) – I’d heard that for years he never saw healings and then began to grow in it.

Earlier this year I was in a pastors session he was teaching and they opened up for Q & A so I got my chance. I talked a bit about it in service on Sunday and mentioned that I would post my notes in entirety here. I believe a great move of God is coming to the GTA and Canada and that healing is going to be a major part of that. It is not just going to be ‘preachers’ and ‘big names’ but every day believers who step out.  As you read these notes let your faith be built to be on of those with “fire in your eyes” -

Pushing In For Healing (Q&A w. Bill Johnson)

1) Believe that it is for you

  • Most of my life I thought you had to be a special person to flow in the supernatural
  • It wouldn’t leave the pages of scripture for me
  • I never had a special Encounter or calling and I’m not a “bold, extroverted person”
  • Late 80’s I went to a John Wimber Miracle Conference and realized that he had fruit and I had theology
  • I realized that this was in my lap

2) Study Healing

  • We began to have a class on healing – we watched healing and mimicked what we saw
  • Don’t try to be an original – learn and then be original. Your own personality will take over.

3) Cry out in the Secret Place

  • I really cried out to God in the secret place
  • I really pursued an increase of His presence

4) Take risks in the Public Place

  • I began to take risks publicly

5) Understand that it will grow incrementally

  • The first healing was in a store… we didn’t have another one the entire year but we ‘rode that healing’
  • We came to TACF in 1994 and saw an increase in His presence and in healings (we also saw a mass exodus in our church)
  • We started to have miracles weekly
  • We had Randy Clarke in our church and had 400 healings in 4 days and now we have them daily

Other Notes

  • Don’t try to convince everyone – find those with fire in their eyes and pour into them – they will take risks and pay the price
  • At Bethel I will often ask “how many people did the works of Jesus outside the walls of the church this week? How many were successful?” – and we will have hands go up all over the place!

Courtship 101: a Biblical Approach to Relationships

Introduction

A number of years ago in the early stages of our church the majority of our members were single (mind you – we still have a lot of amazing single people… so if you love Jesus and are looking for the one… just playing). The LORD impressed on me very strongly that a shift was coming and if we did not establish a culture of how to ‘date’ according to the principles of the Scriptures that it would tear our church community apart.

This stood out to me because I had seen far to many examples of young people who were growing in their faith but were ship-wrecked by sexual sin and broken hearts. I had also watched too many ministries which became “soap operas” of who was dating who, and the distraction and damage that it caused. Furthermore, I was not in a relationship myself and was hungry to understand how to live out a godly relationship myself.

I recognized clearly that our cultures view of relationships and dating didn’t work – it very often led to disaster. The reason that we often saw the same results in the ‘church’ was because we were doing things the exact same way! What we needed was a fresh, Bible-based perspective on how to do things.

I began to go to the scriptures, talk with couples about both their successes and failures, and learn from other youth ministries and what they did. I was also greatly influenced by “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Boy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris. I entered into a relationship (and ultimately married) and others began to get into relationships as well.

Through this whole process we developed a paradigm or approach to relationships that we call courtship. We would never suppose that it is the only way and that every other one is wrong but we have seen it work for couple after couple in our church community. I have often had the honor of standing at the alter with a young man and women who, while not perfect, have honored God and honored each other and enter marriage without the guilt and shame of sin and compromise. I have sensed the presence and pleasure of God so clearly on those days.

As our church has grown, and others have expressed interest in our approach I realized the need to articulate more clearly the heart, and step by step practicalities of what we do. This document is my attempt. It is ideally meant to be used as a guide for teaching and discussion. It does not cover every minute detail and I suspect will be modified and sharpened as we get feedback and continue to grow.

Grasping the Heart of Courtship

Before discussing the practical steps of courtship it is absolutely vital that we get the heart behind courtship. When you have the right heart, then the practical steps will be a lifeline to honoring God and honoring each other. When you do not have the right heart they will seem like legalistic rules that you will ultimately resent.

So what is the heart behind courtship?

I. It is a heart to honor and please God

  • As a believer our number one aim should be to please God in every area of our lives – including our relationships and love life.
  • When you have this heart you want to do everything possible to conduct your relationships with the opposite sex in a way that pleases God and brings honor to Him.
  • We please God when we live in accordance with his principles and commands. Courtship is about doing just that.

II. It is a heart to honor each other

  • In addition to loving God we are commanded to love each other – when a couple’s relationship is filled with sin and compromise they are not truly loving or honoring each other.
  • True love is not seeing ‘how far can we go’ or ‘how much can I get’ but it is saying ‘I want to help you walk in purity and walk out the call of God on your life’.
  • By applying the principles of courtship a couple will truly be honoring each other and showing true love.
  • When starting a courtship, no couple knows for certain that they will be married and so it is also important to remember that you may be in a relationship with someone else’s future husband or wife. How would you want someone to treat/interact with your future spouse? Would you want them in the back seat of a car with their clothes half off? No! So that is the standard with which you should treat the person you are courting. “Do unto others and you would have the do unto you”

III. It is a heart to walk in purity and holiness

  • God has called and empowered us to walk in purity and holiness in every area of our lives – including our love life and relationships.
  • Sexual sin has devastating consequences. These include unplanned pregnancy, STD’s, broken hearts, soul ties and spiritual bonding, delay or destruction of the calling of God on your life and the list goes on.
  • A wise individual will not enter a relationship lightly and when they do so will plan for purity and holiness very seriously – this is courtship.

IV. It is a heart to prepare yourself for a successful marriage

  • Biblically, the ultimate design and purpose of love and romance is marriage
  • Today we see an unprecedented number of failed and broken marriages. Many people do not understand that the seeds of destruction are often sown in how they prepare themselves – both in their personal life and when they are dating/engaged.
  • When you honor God, each other and walk in purity through courtship you are laying the foundation for a healthy and strong marriage.

V. It is a heart that desires the perfect will of God for you life

  • The most important decision you will make in life next to accepting Jesus is who you will marry.
  • Many people have undermined or even destroyed the call of God on their life because they married the wrong person.
  • Entering into a relationship with someone is serious business and needs to be treated as such. It should not be done flippantly or lightly.
  • When the principles of courtship are applied they help you make sure you walk out God’s best in your life.

Courtship Basics

So now that we have covered the heart, let’s discuss the practicalities of what it actually looks like:

Courtship is a principled relationship in which marriage is a prayerful consideration that is committed to scriptural purity, real accountability, submission to God and spiritual authority and functions according to clear God-given standards (P.A.S.S.)

I. Courtship

  • Some would ask why we used the word ‘courtship’ instead of ‘dating’? When the word ‘dating’ in used, in our North American culture we have pre-determined picture of what that is. By using a different word we are making a break from ‘relationships as usual’ and reinforcing that we are basing our relationship on the Word of God rather than the cultural norms.
  • It is important to note that what you actually call your relationship does not matter as long as you adopt Godly principles. If a couple wants to say they are ‘dating’ rather than ‘courting’ that is fine.

II. Principled Relationship

  • If you were to ask an average dating couple what principles they were basing their relationship on they would probably give you a blank look – in our culture relationships are often based on feelings and not on sound principles.
  • As believers we need to base our relationships on the principles of the Word of God and not how we feel. For example: we may feel very strongly like have sex before we are married but we do not because of the teachings of the scriptures. We put principles above our feelings.
  • A commitment to courtship is a commitment to base every area of your relationship on the Word of God and when you feel like doing something else you stick to the principles.

III. Where Marriage is a Prayerful Consideration

  • God’s ultimate design for our capacity to fall in love was that it would lead us into a committed relationship of marriage.
  • In our culture, dating is often completely separated from any consideration of marriage but this was never God’s intent. If we are dating someone with no intention of exploring a long term commitment then why are we doing it?
  • This question is very important to consider because we will often realize that we are doing it to fulfill our lusts, medicate a need that we should be looking to God to meet, or simply because it is what we have been told we are supposed to be doing.
  • If you are not in a season of your life where marriage is a possibility (even if it is several years down the road) then why open yourself up to the potential temptation, sin, heartbreak, and distraction of a relationship?
  • It is important to counter-balance this point with a caution that you do not need to rush toward marriage or feel that because you are courting you must get married. The heart of courtship is that this person is someone that you could see yourself potentially marrying and you are developing a deeper relationship with to prayerfully explore that possibility.
  • We must remember that every successful courtship does not end in marriage. If a couple begins courting but then realizes that they are not to be together then they have succeeded in finding God’s will. The point of courtship is that they will be able to step away with minimal damage of sexual sin, guilt and shame.

IV. P = Purity

  • A commitment to courtship is a commitment to sexual purity – both in thought and in action.
  • Song of Solomon 3:5 – We see here a Biblical charge that we are not to stir up or awaken love until it pleases (or until the proper time).
  • God created sex and designed it to be enjoyed in the context of marriage but our culture glorifies sexual activity outside of marriage.
  • Sex and sexual activity can be compared to a fire – in the context of a fireplace it is great, but in the middle of the living room it is not. Sex in marriage is an amazing thing but outside of marriage it is very destructive.
  • Some couples feel that sexual interaction is ‘ok’ as long as they don’t actually have intercourse. This perspective completely misses the heart of God and of the courtship process.
  • Our heart while courting should not be to see ‘how far can we go’ but ‘how can we honor and protect each other’ while waiting for marriage.
  • “How far is too far?” is a common question. In his teaching on relationships and marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 the Apostle Paul said that ‘it is a good for a man not to touch a woman’ (7:1). The Greek word for touch is the word ‘hapto’ which means to light afire.
  • In this context the scriptures are very clear that any interaction (verbal or physical) between a man and a woman who are not married that stirs a deep sexual desire needs to be reserved for marriage.
  • It is not possible to give an exact list of what to you can and cannot do – it may be different for each couple (within reason of course). The key is for couples to embrace this principle and commit to refraining from physical interaction which awakens deep sexual desire (obviously, strong sexual desire will be there but in this I’m referring to when we “fool around and things get hot”)
  • We must embrace purity in our physical interaction, but also in our thought life, and our communication with each other.

V. A = Accountability

  • A commitment to courtship is a commitment to having a godly individual or couple that you are accountable to regarding your relationship.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – “but woe to the one who is alone when he falls”. Every couple will face temptation and it is vital that we have someone who will ‘lift them up’
  • As believers we are called to a life of discipleship – this includes our courting relationship. We need to have someone who knows us, with whom we are radically open about our relationship with who can ask us the hard questions about how we are doing.
  • When we have this it guards us from ‘falling’ further into sin. If we do not then it is very easy to get ourselves back into the same problems.
  • You accountability partner(s) can pray for/with you, help you see things from an outside perspective and help you develop strategies to standing strong in obedience and purity.
  • You will only be as accountable as you want to be. True accountability is 100% honest and open. If you hold certain things back then you are not really being accountable.
  • Real accountability is hard – especially when you have fallen into sin but it is vital.

VI. S = Submission to God and Spiritual Authority

  • A commitment to courtship is a commitment to submission to God and spiritual authority.
  • For many, the words submission and spiritual authority have a negative connotation because of a lack of proper teaching or bad experiences but we need to understand that they are Biblical and healthy.
  • James 4:7 (NKJV) – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
  • When you have submitted your courtship to God you have spent time seeking Him whether this relationship is something that he has for you. Once in the relationship you are constantly seeking to conduct yourselves in a way that is pleasing to Him.
  • It is also important to submit the relationship to spiritual authority in your lives. Ideally this is your parents. You are not looking for their permission as much as for their prayer and the giving of their blessing to the relationship.
  • If your parents are not in a place where they would understand what you are trying to do, or not involved in your life then look to a ‘spiritual parent’ in your life: your pastors or mature Christian leader (Remember: the heart of God is that we would do everything possible to honor our father and mother so always do whatever you can to honor your parents)
  • When we submit our relationship to God and spiritual authority there is a spiritual blessing and protection that is released over our relationship. If we do not then we are open to heightened attacks of the enemy.

VII. S = Standards

  • A commitment to courtship is a commitment to establishing godly standards for your relationship – what you will and will not do.
  • When entering a courtship the couple need to earnestly pray and seek God (submission) regarding how he wants this relationship to look – particularly in the aspects of boundaries and standards.
  • There is no cookie-cutter solution for boundaries and standards – what works for one couple may not work for another (Note: this is within reason – there are many things that are Scripturally out of bounds).
  • These boundaries and standards can include physical interaction, where you will and will not spend time together (i.e. no bedrooms), curfews and so forth.
  • Once a couple establishes the boundaries/standards that God gives them they need to pray together over them and commit them to the Lord, and share them with their accountability partners.
  • This will give the accountability partners some clear direction regarding what they are holding them accountable for.
  • As the relationship grows and changes then the standards may evolve as well and that is completely fine – as long as it is submitted to the Lord and your accountability partners are updated.

Practical Application: Walking it Out

Every relationship looks a little different (some look a lot different) so there is no way that we can give an all-encompassing example of how courtship would look from start to finish but here is an example of how it could look:

I. Two individuals discover that they have a mutual interest in one another.

II. Both take time for prayer and seeking God regarding his will for this interest. They consult spiritual authority in their lives to see what they think. They consider whether this is the right season in their life for a relationship and closely consider their heart motives.

III. If they do not have the release from the LORD then they do not enter the relationship. If those in spiritual authority cautions them then they take more time to pray.

IV. If they do get a sense that this is God then they meet with those in spiritual authority in their lives and share what God is showing them. They receive prayer and counsel.

V. The couple agrees upon accountability partners and sets up a meeting with them.

VI. The couple prayerfully establishes principles/guidelines that they believe God has for them and shares them with their accountability partners

VII. They begin to walk out the relationship.

VIII. If the couple breaks the guidelines that the LORD gave them (Example: going to far physically) then they immediately pray together and repent, and speak with their accountability partners. They tell them what happened and get them to pray with them.

IX. As they grow in confidence and receive confirmation from the LORD when the time is right the couple will get engaged and move towards marriage.

If you have questions or need clarification (particularly if you are not part of the Church Without Limits community) please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you.