Kavanah: The linking of God’s Power & Presence with our Obedience…

The very nature of Kavanah is the discovery of a life where God’s presence AND power wraps His arms around us. But not us in any mind-set, but rather us as yielded, available and obedient so that God can work in, through and around us. The understanding of Kavanah is best grasped as an english paragraph contained in a single Hebrew/Aramaic word.

Kavanah transforms life as we know it. We enter a life where we willingly join God with a blank-page invitation for Him to actively live in and through us with His unlimited presence and power. This isn’t a Sunday morning hour of sitting but rather a 24/7 life-together. Kavanah doesn’t fit in a box, program or hour, it busts out all 8 sides of the box and ushers us into a daily way of life with God, together. Kavanah powers and connects us intimately with God and then to each other as we share in His Word, Prayer, Love and daily life. Sadly, Kavanah illustrations have often been limited to the context of intentional prayer. Don’t get me wrong, Kavanah & prayer are essentially linked, but so are Kavanah & the Word, Kavanah & our being loved to love, and Kavanah & all of life.

To better understand the transformational power of a Kavanah life we need to grow in our understanding of how the Bible makes us aware of God’s manifest presence, not only his omnipresence:

Kavanah is the difference that moves us beyond saying “God is everywhere,” to saying “God is here with me.”

As we travel the Route 66 of our disciplemaking friendships we encounter an intentional link between a live lived in God’s presence, our obedience and His active power—these knit together to form the intersection and clarity of Kavanah.

Following are some passages that call out Kavanah invitation to live a transformational life with God. What passages would you add?

God answered Moses: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give you rest” (33:14). The Hebrew word for “rest” here translates to “a comfortable, peaceful confidence.” Notice how God’s presence results in a change to how I live.

I love how the active presence, power and leaning in of Abraham leads a heathen king to declare, “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do…” (Genesis 21:22)

God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his Kavanah was active: “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” (Joshua 1:5–6). 

The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and affirmed his Kavanah, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” … “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” (Judges 6:12, 14).

God told Isaiah of a special Kavanah promise he makes to those he loves: “O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. … because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2, 5).

God’s Kavanah comes through the power of the Holy Spirit with us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere…” Acts 1:8

In the Old Testament God places himself with his people, but they don’t always respond in Kavanah… God leans in regardless of our leaning back because it’s the nature of His grace (WHILE we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8). So God’s presence alone isn’t kavanah, yet God let’s us know that it’s his desire for his people to have Him in the midst of their daily lives: “I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them” Ex 29:45-46; ‘The Lord says, “Shout and rejoice, O beautiful Jerusalem, for I am coming to live among you.’” Zech 2:10-11.

But kavanah rings loud when he combines his presence and our leaning as pictured in Ezekiah 37:27: “I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

In the New Testament God continues to let us know that he desires to dwell with us: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” John 1:14

But the joy of Kavanah is when his presence is responded to as we receive (gospel) this presence: “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” John 17:3; and ‘For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” 2 Cor 6:16

I love the simplicity of disciplemaking that shares this life of Kavanah as our bullseye—the intersection of God’s presence, God’s power and my heart in obedience.  We see this clarity painted when the Babylonian Talmud Berakat 32:b stresses that four practices particularly require this Kavanah bullseye:

Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be [always] done with Kavanah, namely, study of the Torah [to intimately know it’s author], good deeds [our response to be being loved as we overflow love], praying at all times, and one’s worldly occupation [in all of life starting with our family].  

Jesus isn’t shy about linking himself to this picture of active Kavanah when in Matthew 11:28 he declares “Come to me (with/presence), all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

I never tire of reviewing how Kavanah is woven start-t- finish into the disciplemaking friendship challenge of Matthew 28:18-20.

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” — Matthew 28:18-20

Where do you see the weaving of the Spirit’s active power, our being sent wrapped up in Jesus assurance of his continual presence?

I invite you to join me in leaning in with Kavanah clarity as you live today, tomorrow and the next day. And know like Moses and Jesus that this means you’ll not be alone, you have God’s active presence so that others will notice that “there’s something different about you because God is with you wherever you go…”

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If you want to live and grow in Kavanah I suggest you walk through The Disciplemaker’s Living Guide with family and friends. You’ll embrace our 25 favorite disciplemaking passages with Kavanah and each other. I promise you, you’ll look at life and live differently. —Dave Garda, Your Cadre Disciplemaking Friend & Missionary of Encouragement
For the portable digital edition you can go directly to the iBookstore on your iPhone, iPad or computer.
For the printed edition or reader’s PDF edition you can visit us at our online disciplemaker’s store…

For live disciplemaking training, Disciplemaking Learning Communities, Preaching, teaching or training with your church, group or ministry you can contact rennie@cadremissionaries.com

What if we’ve gotten “Leadership” wrong?

What if we’ve gotten “Leadership” wrong?

What’s the difference between being a first-live-er and a first-tell-er?

I’d start by outing the western view and lack of a Biblical practice of leadership. Why are western churches so obsessed with a structure where a few special people (talent, presence, temperament, inheritance) define leadership?

I am so grateful for the towel wearing leadership of John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul… 

Rather than focus on special vision, special leaders, I am excited to wake up each day to walk with friends and let the Holy Spirit (kavanah style) lead me, lead us…

The greatest leadership vision, action, example of leadership is when you and I live Jesus’ GO MAKE DISCIPLES, together vision, starting with our family. 

We’re not leaders when we gorge ourselves on leadership reading, more leadership workshops and more leadership copying…

We’re leaders when we help others lead. When we multiply at home and with friends. When we break out of our silo’s and walk alongside and not above… leaders don’t rise above, they crawl alongside.

The gift of leadership is mentioned in only one gift list and that was to refer to it as a LESSER gift… instead Paul elevated, hospitality, towel wrapped servanthood and friendship. Please learn to lead as a role and not a position.

I love how 1 thessalonians 5:11-14 calls each of us to be disciplemakers who live alongside (encourage, Thayer) in a mutual/reciprocal way (one other, Thayer) who mutually leave each other with more (build, Thayer).

Then Paul refers to ways we can honor those in the role of leadership for their example and hard-work (first-live-ers) who offer spiritual example and guidance through an accessible life… (1 th 1 to 5).

Next PAUL returns to invite each, all of us to lead in each other’s lives like positive, hard-working leaders have modeled…

From my understanding of Jesus: Inflow, overflow, multiply are a flat org chart we’re all called to live, share, own and release. We are disciplemaking friends not leaders… and it starts in our homes.

My vote: Let’s drop the leader, follower dialogue… let’s erase our leadership boxes and layers then instead… be kavanah living, disciplemaking first-live-ers who lead by helping others multiply.

What if we’ve gotten leadership wrong?

The best reason to study Scripture

Have you ever taken note of what the Bible says about itself? I did a little word study on that once, and here’s a brief snapshot of how the authors of Scripture describe it:

Your Word is flawless, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey;
it’s my delight, my counselor, my comfort;
it’s eternal, boundless, trustworthy, true, and right
it’s a lamp for my feet and a light for my path;
it’s like a fire in my heart;
it’s alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword,
it penetrates to the soul and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart;
it is God-breathed and useful for teaching training in righteousness;
it is truth;
it sanctifies us;
it’s the joy of my heart;
it’s the way to life.

Wow. This is quite the book we hold in our hands. It is a reflection of the amazing God who wrote it for us, through the human authors. And His Spirit goes with His Word and empowers it.

The ancient rabbis taught that kavanah was necessary in four facets of life: prayerfulness, studying Scripture to know God, loving others, and doing your life’s work as an act of worship.

Pray, study, love, live.

They held that to really honor God, we must pray, study, love and live with intentionality—paired with an expectancy that God is here and that he will work.

To know God himself

Ultimately, the best reason to study Scripture to know God. The Bible is an essential, incredible part of the life of a Christ-follower’s life. It’s in Scripture that we get to know God’s heart and see how he’s acted on behalf of his people and his name throughout history. In it we glean wisdom and learn God’s will. Of course, ultimately, we get to know God Himself, and that profoundly shapes every other area of our lives. And the more we know Him, the more we love Him, which is the most important of all (Mark 12:28-30).

We pray that today, you’ll open your Bible with fresh eyes. Approach God’s word with kavanah: with intentionality and commitment, but also with an awed expectancy that the power of the Most High is at work in its pages and wants to be at work in your life because of it. We pray that you not only read it, but you study it, love it, learn it, and live it. It’s in keeping it that there is great reward.

Hitting the kavanah bullseye

Kavanah is one of the key words we Cadre missionaries use often.

It’s a Hebrew word that helps us understand how God empowers us to live as disciplemakers. In its simplest form, kavanah means “to aim.” In disciplemaking, it describes the place where my disciplined actions meet God’s active presence in my life.

If disciplemaking is about following Jesus together, every day, we need his power to do it. And kavanah helps us see how.

We find the roots of Kavanah in the Babylonian Talmud. Berakoth 32b says, “Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be done with kavanah, namely, [study of] the Torah, good deeds [loving others and showing kindness], praying always, and one’s worldly occupation.”

Kavanah is how we hit the bullseye as a disciple. It enables us to be filled up by Jesus, anticipating what God is going to do in us, through us and around us.

We practice these disciplines, depending on the help of the Holy Spirit to hit the kavanah bullseye:

1. Studying God’s Word to connect with him share what we’re learning about him.

2. Prayerfulness

3. Loving others as an overflow of God’s extravagant love for us.

4. Living a life that’s worship, as we work, play and invest in our friends and family.

As we study, pray, love and live together, we hit the bullseye as disciples who makes disciples, who make disciples.

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Hitting the bullseye together

In 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Paul explains this to his friends:

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Paul reminds his friends they aren’t left on their own to follow Jesus. He is praying that God will enable them to live out their life with Jesus as they walk each day. Paul clearly expresses the kavanah bullseye: God will help you (enable, empower, prompt) to live with him and with each other in the way he desires, the way Jesus described in Acts 1:8:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Remember, Acts 1:8 isn’t a missionary verse. It’s a disciplemaking promise for every follower of Jesus.

Kavanah describes hitting the bullseye of God’s target for your life. God’s power and presence guide the flight of the arrow. Words like enable, empower, and prompt are beautiful pictures of the way God guides our lives toward his target: us living a disciplemaking life, for his glory!

This life includes walking in step with friends as we support one another in following Jesus. When Paul says to “to live a life worthy of his call,” he expects the Thessalonians will already understand what he means by a worthy life.

To live a life worthy of God’s call, we’ve got to following Jesus with friends, in the kavanah power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • When did you last sense God’s prompting…and obey?
  • How can you walk in God’s power today to make disciples with your family and friends?