Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Holding the Line" by Garris Elkins

Awhile ago, I was with a group of pastors and leaders - a great group of people. As our conversation went on, one of the pastors commented, "Well, I know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life for me, but I can't say that for others." As I swallowed hard and tried to grasp what was just spoken, this person went on to affirm their remark by saying that there is no way to demand this belief of another person.

Prior to that gathering of pastors and leaders, I had another circumstance where someone who pastors a large and influential church, said much the same thing. This leader was questioned about his remark and affirmed that this was his position. Those that challenged him were called, "fundamentalists." If this is taking place within my limited sphere of influence, I wonder how widespread this line of reasoning might be within what was once defined as the "Bible-believing" American church.

I try not to get angry when I hear remarks like these. I even try to not redefine my personal anger as the anger of God, but something rose up in me when these two shepherds talked this way. If Jesus is only right for you, and you could never bring yourself to infer that He is right for another person - as in, "No one comes to the Father, but through Me", then someone has made a major departure from what we have known for 2,000 years as Truth. This is, and has become, a big deal.

Think about it, if someone were to adopt this line of thinking, "I know Jesus is right for me, but I could never require that of another person," then some realities need to be considered.

If Jesus is no longer the Way, the Truth and the Life for all humanity then Buddha is another option. If this is no longer true - why did Jesus not include an expiration date on what He said? If Jesus is no longer all that He said He was, then the Early Church martyrs wasted their lives. If He is only right for you and you could never suggest He is right for someone else, then stop sending money to missionaries because those in a distant land might find another option for salvation in their homeland that will work instead of Jesus.

The next great frontier for what was known as the Bible-believing American church, yours and mine included, will not be some obscure doctrine or worship preference. The next great frontier will be the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the re-affirmation of His exclusivity as the One and only Way of salvation for you, me, and our neighbor next door.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The Burning Ones" by Garris Elkins

Each Tuesday morning I gather with a group of people in our sanctuary to pray. This time is open for everyone. For the first half hour we play worship music and bath ourselves in God's presence. The last half hour we pray, prophesy, confess or simply yield ourselves to God in silence.

This is a powerful time that I look forward to each week. Half of this group is under 25 years of age and the music reflects that demographic. At age 60 I could not imagine anything better. I enjoy being on the “edge” of the new sounds of God's Spirit in worship.

This morning, as worship music filled the sanctuary, I saw a picture in the Spirit. I saw a piece of paper and someone lighting the paper on fire with a match. As the flame began to move across the paper I noticed that it did not burn in a particular line. It burned as the flame decided its own direction. Behind the burning edge of paper the flame produced a crumbling black ash that fell to the floor.

As the vision of the burning paper continued I heard the Lord ask me, “Do you want to live in the ash or in the flame?” I said, “In the flame, Lord.”

The concept of “burning” was on my mind because the previous weekend I had taught about the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24. On the Road to Emmaus these two disciples walked with Jesus and discussed the events of Resurrection Week. At first they didn't realize who he was because the Lord kept them from recognizing him. After the Lord revealed himself to the disciples they said, “Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?”

I couldn't shake the word, “burn.” I needed to know what it meant so I pulled out my Greek lexicon. The word “burn”, used in the Emmaus text, doesn't mean the condition of something burning like a candle that burns and you observe it burning. This usage of this word means, “to set fire to something – to light it up.” The burning on the Road to Emmaus took place because God set the hearts of these two disciples on fire. They were ignited by God.

God is the one who lights us up. We don't self-ignite. His plan is for his people to become burning ones in his presence. To live a life without burning for God is not his plan. We are to live in the expectancy of this divine ignition.

The fire of God is a revealing fire. As we step into his presence those things that hold us back are revealed and consumed. This position is not stationary, but moving, always stepping deeper and deeper into his will for our lives. His will for his Church is always found on the leading edge of his consuming presence.

Each of us has a choice to make as to where we choose to stand in this life. One of the prophetic words given during our morning prayer time followed my sharing the image of the burning paper. The word said that we have a choice to make to step into the fire and become ignited by God or stand in the ash. As a group we were led to take a step of faith into his presence. This morning I was keenly aware that destinies were being released as people stepped deeper into the flame of his presence.