Monday, March 3, 2008

"Living in the Green Light of God" by Garris Elkins

Several months ago my wife, Jan, and I had the privilege of having lunch with David and Deborah Crone who pastor The Mission, a church in Vacaville, California. When I get with leaders like the Crones the conversation will usually turn towards a question regarding what guides them in their ministry. I asked David this question and without hesitation he said, “We live in the green light of God.”

I let David's profound words sink deep into my spirit. An adjustment of my life paradigm was making a gentle shift as David's words hung over the lunch table. Deborah added to David's comment by saying that God is faithful to give us the red lights if we will simply live in the green light of God.

After lunch, on the drive home, David's words began to rearrange certain areas of my life and ministry. An impartation of truth had taken place.

The lives of some believers resemble beautiful and powerful automobiles that are running at idle while waiting at an intersection even though the light is green. It has been “green and go” since the Day of Pentecost, yet some still wait, continuing to idle and go nowhere. I sense God is wanting to ask His Church, “What are you waiting for?” The reality is that the heavens are open and the Spirit has been given to the Church. The green light of God is present in His people. It is time to move.

Many of us have forgotten that we really are children of the Most High God. We have allowed lies to be imbedded in us that have created a performance-based relationship with the Grace Giver. Some dear saints of God are afraid to move out in boldness because they still believe that God can only love them if their performance is without fault. This fear has immobilized many. This lie is displaced when we know we are loved not because of our performance, but out of the very nature of God. He can only love. He is love. He is unchangeable.

A performance-based relationship with God will keep a believer forever idling at the intersection even though the light is green because way down deep in their hearts they are still believing that if their efforts for God fail they will be rejected by Him. Fear makes afraid to press the accelerator of faith. In the meantime the signal reflects back at us a brilliant green, but all we see is red. The lies blind us to the reality of the moment.

At the spiritual intersection of our lives, as our vehicles of faith continue to idle on, spirits of fear and rejection jump in the back seat. Fear and rejection can redirect the focus back onto self and when this happens we become the ones responsible for the results. We take on the burden of outcomes. “What if I pray and they are not healed?” “What if I turn to the table behind me and actually give them the word you asked me to give?” If you and I feel that we are responsible for the results of our faith we will inevitably live in the prison of performance. This prison holds your life and faith captive to personal doubt instead of experiencing the open-road freedom that comes from living in the green light of God.

Jesus said in John 15 that He would no longer relate to His disciples as servants. He would now relate to them as friends. The shift here was not simply using a new word to describe the relationship, but rather how the word “friend” would radically change how the disciples would relate to Jesus.

Servants live with a list of things to do. Servants execute lists of performance and when they are done performing then they go back to the servant quarters. A friend is different. They have no lists. They live in anticipation of what their Friend desires. They have a relationship that is powered by intimacy. They don't see intersections. They see an open road and the green light of relationship and freedom.

I love to ride my motorcycle in the wide open spaces of the American West. No stop signs. Sage brush blurring past on long straight stretches of freedom. Its just me and Jesus in the natural reflecting how we should live in the Spirit. This is how is see the church.

In II Corinthians Paul said the following, “18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not "Yes" and "No." 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not "Yes" and "No," but in him it has always been "Yes." 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

Friendship with God looks reckless to people who have yet to realize His friendship. Friendship with God looks reckless because you end up blasting past people who are still parked at the intersection. Friends of God blast right through intersections because they are fulfilling what they anticipate what the Master desires.

You and I live in the green light of God's Promises just like Paul said in verse 20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. “Promise” is a word that can be translated “to announce upon.” Jesus told the disciples in Luke 24: 49, “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.” When Jesus said these words He was assuring His disciples that in the near future God would “announce upon them” the Spirit.

The prophet Joel announced the promise of the future outpouring of the Spirit in the latter days. On the Day of Pentecost timeless eternity announced down upon earth the reality of Joel's prophecy.

God is right now announcing upon the earth His promises. This really is a new day. The fires of revival are sparking and igniting upon the earth on every continent. The promise of God has been announced upon His friends. Heaven is waiting to hear the sound of our lives “peeling out” and the smell of burning rubber at every intersection of life where we have lived in doubt and fear.

If you find yourself parked at idle at some life intersection, pray this prayer-

God, right now, in this moment I ask for your presence to invade my life. I break off the spirits of fear and rejection that have caused me to live a life of perpetual pause in fear of failed performance. In this moment I choose to engage the gears of life and press the accelerator of faith knowing that you love me no matter what happens. From this day forward I will live in Your green light. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

The light is green and the command is go! There are no radar traps, no potholes, no sharp turns that He cannot navigate with you. Go for it! The green light of God is on!

"Extravagant Love" by Garris Elkins

A few weeks ago I did something as a husband that turned out to be pretty smart. I bought my wife a dozen beautiful red roses for no other reason than I wanted to tell her that I loved her. It wasn't Jan's birthday; it wasn't our anniversary, or any special occasion. Very simply I was in a store, saw the roses and thought of how much I loved my wife. Man, did I score some points! Sometimes we just need to love someone extravagantly.

The dictionary defines the word “extravagant” as ‚”to exceed the limits of reason or necessity.” One of the most dangerous things that can affect our lives is to limit our expression of love to God and to other people by human reason and necessity. Christianity without extravagant expressions of love towards God creates a passionless faith.

The Cross of Christ is the best picture of God's extravagant love to us. The Cross is the standard by which we should base our extravagant response to Him and to the world around us. On the Cross He gave it all.

My daughter is a trained and gifted artist. I love her paintings. Each year we have a evening at the church where we do a concert and art sale and the proceeds go to funding a mission trip for the students in our school of ministry. Anna was asked to donate one of her paintings. These paintings bring $1,000.00 in a gallery. In Anna's email to me she said, “Dad I want to donate my favorite painting. I want to give something that I love to God.” Extravagant love is an unusual love.

Have you ever done something completely extravagant for Jesus? Something that exceeds the limits of human reason and necessity? The Lord is looking for extravagant lovers who are willing to risk reputation and life just give Him extravagant expressions of love.

John 12 records an act of extravagant love that took place 2,000 years ago. This act of extravagant love is a model for the Church today. The background for John 12 takes place right after the Lord called Lazarus from the tomb and brought him back to life. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were all still in that wonderful state of shock that comes when Jesus has just done a miracle. They were basking in that warm and wonderful feeling that surrounds us when God has just done something beyond our wildest dreams. The house where these people were gathered was filled with gratitude. Whenever people are grateful for what God has done that grateful attitude sets the stage for the grateful ones to exhibit extravagant love.

Most people wait for the “when I win the lottery” moment before they begin to think about doing something extravagant for Jesus. We wait for unusual resources to appear before we act. With this mentality we end up living lives void of any expression of extravagant love. Mary, the woman in the text of John 12, never won a lottery but she did possess something very valuable. She had a jar of scented oil. Mary didn't wait - she loved extravagantly with what she had.

The oil Mary possessed was called spikenard. It was made from the dried roots of an herb grown in Northern India. The oil was poured into alabaster jars and then imported to the Holy Land. The oil was expensive and was one of the most priced possessions a woman could have. It was part of her dowry.

John records this incident in chapter 12: 1 “Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus‚ the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus' feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. 4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 'That perfume was worth a year's wages It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.' 6 Not that he cared for the poor‚he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‚ money, he often stole some for himself. 7 Jesus replied, ‚'Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.'”

Most commentators believe that it was at this rebuke by Jesus that Judas left the room and began to bargain his betrayal of the Lord.

We learn some things about Judas from his words. Extravagant was not in his dictionary of life. Everything Judas processed had to do with what he could get out of life. Judas was the center of his world. Judas was a taker.

For Judas the extravagant love of Mary was something to be confronted and condemned. Judas would be the kind of person who would try to remove extravagant love from the lives and ministries of other people. Judas lived with a perverted practicality that tried to stop expressions of extravagant love.

Mary's act of extravagant love is still teaching us 2,000 years later. From Mary's life we learn some things about loving extravagantly.


Verse 2 said that a dinner was prepared in Jesus' honor. Jesus was the center of the evening. They were grateful for what Jesus did for Lazarus. Mary's act of extravagant love gave honor to the Lord. That is what happens when extravagant love is acted upon - the Lord is honored. Mary's extravagant love expressed itself without self-protection and the fear of loss. When we love extravagantly nothing is off-limits. Extravagant loves does not use a calculator.

William Barclay once wrote, “Love does not stop to nicely calculate the less or more; love does not stop to work out how little it can respectfully give. With a kind of divine extravagance, love gives everything it has and never counts the cost.” Calculation is never any part of love.


Verse 3 tells us that Mary anointed Jesus with the oil in the alabaster jar. The complaint of Judas was not that a measured drop was used. His complaint was that the full contents were poured extravagantly upon Jesus. He complained that Mary wasted an entire year of salary on Jesus.

How does someone begin to love the way Mary did? We are able to give our best and give our all when we understand what Jesus gave for us. Most Christians have forgotten what they have been saved from. We are only able to give our best and our all when we understand the depth of love that motivated God to give us His best and His all in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.


Mary did not complained. Mary loved and then she gave. She stayed close to Jesus throughout the crucifixion and later on she was always found to be near Him. To Mary being near to Jesus was all that mattered. Intimacy with Him was the priority of her life.

Our regrets have us look to the past and wish something had never happened. To Mary Jesus was her dowry - not some oil in a jar. When Jesus was near the only thing on Mary's mind was how she could show her love to Him. Regrets are birthed out of our past. Mary had no regrets. Her past, present and future were all defined by His presence. Extravagant love is not a regretful love - it is a love that is consumed with a passion that requires expression.

I remember when Jan and I were first starting out in the ministry. We sold our home and tithed from our profits. I remember giving with joy to the ministry we chose to bless. Years later, as we struggled through a tough financial season in the ministry, I felt a regret creep into my heart that I did not have those thousands of dollars that we had given. After letting that regret linger for a time I had to come to a place of repentance. My regret was soiling an extravagant expression of love. God had to remove the Judas that wanted to live in my heart. A perverted practicality had entered my heart. I repented and asked God to heal me. When we live in the immediate presence of God regret cannot take hold of our hearts because His presence dissolves the regrets of our past and invites us into the now-moment of His presence.


Verse 3 tells us what happens when we love extravagantly, “The house was filed with the fragrance.” In the natural realm the house was filled with the fragrance of spikenard oil, but in the spiritual realm there also lingered the fragrance that takes place when we choose to show extravagant love to Jesus. Extravagant love will change the atmosphere of our lives because it is His life that we are breathing in.

A question needs to be asked, “When are we supposed to show extravagant love to Jesus?” The answer is simple - whenever He makes Himself known. Mary could have simply sat at the feet of Jesus and done nothing. Something happened in Mary's grateful heart that put action to what she was feeling for Him.

God is calling His people to make choices today to give Him their best and to give Him their all. When we do this, our lives, and the circumstances of our lives, will be filled with the fragrance of extravagant love. The fragrance of extravagant love is the lost tool of evangelism for the church. Today, the people you live and work with are afraid of the world's economic condition. They are afraid of terrorism. They are afraid of tomorrow. The world stinks with fear. God is calling His people to extravagant acts of love so that the stink of fear that grips the world will be displaced by the new fragrance of God's presence.

May I offer a prayer for those who want to be extravagant lovers of God:

Father God, I want to become someone who will love You with extravagant acts of love. I want to take who I am and what I possess and give it all to You in some wonderfully extravagant expression of love. I am tired of living in the fear of people and in fear of the world's hopeless condition. I want You to change me into an extravagant lover of You and of other people. Change me God. I want the fragrance of my life to be the fragrance of Your presence. In the name of Your Son Jesus I pray, Amen

"God's Hidden Purpose In Betrayal" by Garris Elkins

Embedded somewhere, in each act of betrayal, is the purpose of God waiting to be discovered.

As you read the following list of names what would they have in common? Benedict Arnold, Alger Hiss, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and Judas Iscariot. They were all traitors or betrayers.

The words “betray” and “traitor” each come from the same Latin word. This word means “to lead someone to their enemy by treachery.” A traitor is someone who betrays a trust.

One of the most graphic betrayals in human history took place during the Last Supper. Judas betrayed Jesus in the midst of a very intimate setting. If you are familiar with the section of scripture you know that Jesus is taking time with His disciples to give them His last instructions before His arrest and crucifixion.

Luke's account of the Last Supper reveals just how deep this betrayal was when Luke describes the betrayer as, “one who sits among us as a friend.” Betrayal hurts because it takes us by surprise. The Last Supper was an intimate and safe environment. We don't expect betrayal to happen in that context.

In John 13 the disciples asked, “Who's He talking about?” in reference to the identity of the betrayer. It didn't make sense to the disciples that a betrayer was in their midst.

Long-term relationships are places where we assume we will experience intimacy and safety. In these relationships we can let our guard down and be ourselves. This is why it is so painful and difficult to recover from this kind of betrayal. One of the deepest wounds of betrayal is that many times it takes us by surprise. Even when it is happening we are not sure we understand fully what is taking place. The disciples didn't understand either.

In Matthew's account of the Lord's betrayal the disciples asked as a group, “Is it me?” Even Judas asked this question even though he knew he was the betrayer.

Judas was a deceiver. He was so good in this role that he would steal from the ministry fund and no one had a clue. Judas was the one who criticized Mary for pouring the anointing oil on Jesus. He had plans for that valuable oil. Judas did not become a full-blown betrayer in a single day. He got to that place by living a life of step-by-step and day-by-day compromise.

Betrayal can come in many forms. It can be a spouse who betrays a marriage bed. It can be an employee who steals company funds that were entrusted to him. It can happen to a child who is abused by someone who should have protected them. It can be a friend who betrays a confidence and shares a secret.

In order to deal with betrayal we have to understand one important truth - embedded somewhere, in each act of betrayal, is the purpose of God waiting to be discovered. Without the hope of this discovery we will be devastated by the betrayal and stop living and engaging life as God intended.

God is never taken by surprise with betrayal. His plan for our lives and ministries is never derailed by betrayal. God's plan for our lives only gets derailed when we let the effects of betrayal rule and reign in our lives.

There are two groups of people who are affected by betrayal - the betrayer and the betrayed.

If you are the betrayer you need to know that the sin of betrayal plans to take you somewhere. For Judas, John 13:30 tells us that betrayal took him “out into the night.” Betrayal will reposition you into a dark place. The only way back into a lighted place is through confession and repentance. Confession is agreeing with God that something is sin and repentance is that shift in our thinking that produces a new direction for our life.

If you have betrayed someone and have truly repented, the moment you confessed your sin to God, you were taken out of that dark place and put back into the light. It may not feel like it though. In the natural you may have to live with the label of betrayer the rest of your life in certain circles of fellowship, but to God you have been relabeled and repositioned.

Restored betrayers need to listen to God more than the words of those they have wronged. The pain of betrayal can shout loud and hurtful things at a restored betrayer. Words that flow out of hurt and sorrow are not what define us - only God defines us.

For the victims of betrayal the spirit of vengeance, that wants to attach itself to you, will try to lure you into the betrayer's dark place. For the victims of betrayal there is a strong desire to see the betrayer punished. Vengeance wants a piece of someone. Hell wants to help you tailor a plan to punish your betrayer. Darkness wants to lure you into the hardness of heart where an unwillingness to forgive exists. You don't have to go there. The choice is yours to make.

What can you as a victim of betrayal do? You can bring that betrayal to Jesus and give it to Him. Let Him own it. Tell Him how much it hurts. He knows the pain of betrayal. Confess your plans of vengeance, punishment and separation. You are the only one who can make the choice about which direction your life will take. Will you follow the pain of betrayal into a dark place or will you follow the Spirit's leading into the light of God's mercy and grace?

Betrayal will lead you somewhere. The choice is yours. The victory over betrayal is found in the response of the betrayed.

In one season of our ministry Jan and I had been terribly wronged by another believer. I remember the night we got the phone call telling us what this person was doing and saying about us publicly. We were hundreds of miles away. We felt helpless. We had entrusted this person with the lives of people we dearly loved. The words of betrayal wounded us deeply.

I remember hanging up the phone that night and taking Jan by the hand and saying, “We need to pray.” We got down on our knees and began to tell God all the pain we felt in that moment. It felt like our lives were caving in on us. It felt like someone had impaled us with a poisoned spear. Our guts ached. In one of those moments of supernatural impartation God gave us one of the greatest spiritual survival gifts we had ever received. He gave us the gift of praise and blessing in the face of betrayal.

As we continued to pray our prayers shifted into praise. We began to praise God for Who he was. We thanked Him for this opportunity to trust Him in our helplessness. We thanked Jesus for this hurtful moment because it was taking us deeper into our dependence on Him. Then we began to bless our betrayer. Over the next few months more phone calls would come from confused saints about how this person continued to say horrible things about our lives and ministry. Every time we thought of our betrayer we made the choice to bless instead of curse. This went on for eight years!

I remember the night we were invited over to our betrayer's home for dinner and, after eight years, he asked for our forgiveness. With great joy I was able to look him in the eye and tell him that we forgave him eight years ago and had spent the last eight years blessing him.

How we choose to respond to the pain of betrayal will determine the direction our lives and ministries will take. Betrayal can be a beginning or it can be an end. There are many gifted and called saints who have been betrayed but are now lying in the enemy's gutter of bitterness and it is breaking the Father's heart. God is calling both the betrayers and the betrayed out of the dark places where the pain and sorrow of betrayal has led them. He is calling people out with His voice of hope and restoration. If you are suffering in a place of betrayal, now is the time to begin to follow His voice. In the end, you will experience the same resurrection power and new life that followed the Lord in His betrayal.

Embedded somewhere, in each act of betrayal, is the purpose of God waiting to be discovered.