Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Lesson Revisited


The lessons you learned in past transitions will help guide you in your future transition. Revisit those lessons and learn from them again. 
Just like professional athletes revisit the basics of their sport with their coach, so the followers of Christ revisit the early truths God deposited in them. 
Your current understanding of life has been constructed from those foundational truths, so if you neglected or discarded them, revisiting them will help you reconnect and finish well. 
Early truths are not inferior truths. Basic training for soldiers establishes cohesiveness in the military unit. Those basic disciplines help keep casualties to a minimum and provide a commander with soldiers who have learned to obey his commands. 
Any time we have success, we are susceptible to the illusion that our success birthed itself. Success does not birth success. Love and faithfulness in all areas of life are what births the fruit of success. This kind of success— sourced in God’s Kingdom—is not always large and visible in a natural sense. It is a success that can be traced back to those early lessons we learned through love, faith, and obedience. 

(An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Chain Reaction Resurrection Life

The day after celebrating the resurrection of Jesus it is important to realize His death and resurrection were not single, isolated events.  The life and death of Jesus are so powerful they created a spiritual chain reaction that continues to confront death and despair throughout all the realms of human existence. Consider the relationships and situations in your life you now see as dead and gone forever. The graves holding these things have the potential to open and release their contents to the voice of the Risen One. 

This morning, I read Matthew’s account of Jesus’ death that took place three days before His resurrection. Imagine the power released when Jesus rose from the grave and defeated death! 

Matthew wrote,  “Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people” (Matthew 27:50-53).

What we once considered dead and lost forever has the potential to walk back into our lives more alive than at any time before. What happened on the day of Jesus' death has the same potential in our day. Imagine the scene in Jerusalem when dead and departed loved ones knocked at the front door of their homes where those inside were still mourning their passing.  

The death and resurrection of Jesus are not events lost in history. These are eternal events free from the constraints of time and space - free from the grip of death. The announcement of the death and resurrection of Jesus traveled through the known creation past the farthest border of outer space to the edge of nothingness and declared His victory. 

The evidence of Jesus' death and resurrection will be walking toward you today. Ask the Lord to help you see the evidence of this approaching resurrection life. It is all around us if we choose to see this life with the eyes of faith.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Undone

This morning at Living Waters Church in Medford, Oregon, I was undone emotionally. The worship team took us to the heights of worship with the passion of their hearts and the excellence of their musical skill. As the worship team sang about Jesus taking His first breath after His resurrection, I could not contain my emotions. I actually heard Him taking that first breath. I was undone knowing that someday I will also draw the same breath after my own resurrection. "He is alive" is not a slogan. Jesus is real and tangible to all who seek Him.

While It Was Still Dark

This morning, I walked outside and stood on our front porch while it was still dark. I wanted to experience the predawn environment of the first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene came to visit the Lord’s tomb. Scripture says, “Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.”  Mary’s first thought was to think someone had stolen the body of Jesus. 

We are no different than Mary. When the evidence of the life of Jesus stares us in the face we must first process our disbelief. That is the purpose of evidence. It is presented to help us displace our doubt. Only when Mary Magdalene had a personal encounter with Jesus later in the morning did it all begin to make sense. Jesus became her evidence. The empty tomb did not at first persuade Mary and neither will just the facts about the Lord and His resurrection persuade us. It was an encounter with Jesus that birthed the words of her testimony, “I have seen the Lord!” 

As you walk into your place of worship this morning, ask God to help you encounter the risen Lord, not an Easter program. That encounter will change everything. All the historical facts about Jesus’ resurrection and the gauzy, stylized social media Easter images cannot give us the faith we need to press on when we want to give up. Only an encounter with the Resurrected One can give us that kind of faith.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Our Easter Destination

The cross and the tomb are both empty, but the throne is forever occupied. That is God’s Easter message to the Church – Jesus has risen to His place of honor! He was raised from death to occupy a place of enthronement where all powers and authorities contrary to the love and will of God are in submission under His feet and as a result of His victory, under our feet as well. 

The suffering of the cross and the darkness of the tomb were only temporary stops along the way toward the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s mission - enthronement.

As you worship the Lord this Easter, take time to contemplate your place in Jesus seated with Him upon His throne. This is not a future event. It is your present reality. That understanding has the potential to change everything.

“For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). 

Have a blessed Easter!

Crisis Sells

We have become a culture that moves from one breathless presentation of doom to the next without taking a breath. If you don’t think this is true, turn on the news. Everyone has a crisis to sell. It has become a profitable product-selling industry in the culture and unfortunately, within the Church.

What we fail to consider in these offerings is the impact they are having on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing when we continually subject ourselves to this kind of unrelenting sales pressure. If we allow our undisciplined emotions to lead the way we will eventually become a customer for the merchandise offered by the crisis-sellers. At that point, we become part of the crisis.

Today, evaluate the crisis you are being asked to purchase with the hard-earned currency of your mental and spiritual peace. What you end up owning may be worse than the perceived crisis you were trying to avert.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Echo of Our Voice

Each time we speak the sound of our voice travels as an echo toward destinations beyond our initial audience. Our words do not fall to the ground and die. They are a powerful force that continues to echo an impact long after a conversation has ended or a statement has been made. When I wrote the book The Sound of Reformation, I unpacked some of the significance of that echo.

“These new, Spirit-indwelled disciples came to the Day of Pentecost in obedience to the marching orders Jesus had given them. On that day, a new sound was released: “Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven…” (Acts 2:2).

"The word translated as sound here is ēchos: it means sound or noise (and is also the root of the English word “echo”). The same word was used in Luke 4 to describe the sound of a testimony created by the ministry of Jesus when a demon-possessed man was set free. It was also used in Hebrews 12 to describe the sound of a ram’s horn trumpeting the Israelites to attention to hear the word of the Lord. 

"That root word ēchos also forms the verb, ēchéō, which means to sound or roar and is found in I Corinthians 13:1 where Paul is defining love to the Corinthians: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

The Church has been called to make the sound of love that will echo through each sphere of cultural influence. If love is not the motivator behind the words we speak then our righteous influence will diminish and we will be aligned with the sounds of another kingdom. 

Be wise in your choice of words, but even more importantly, catch those words in your heart before they fully form and escape to become a dark echo used by the enemy to show the world the sound made by the Church is no different than the sounds made by the surrounding unredeemed culture.

(Portions of this posting taken from the book, The Sound of Reformation. https://www.amazon.com/Sound-Reformation-Garris-Elkins/dp/0692884424/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2BQY6JFDQWM5P&keywords=garris+elkins&qid=1555674542&s=gateway&sprefix=garris+elkins%2Caps%2C245&sr=8-1