Friday, December 31, 2010

"2011 and the Concept of Time" by Garris Elkins

This morning I was on my Twitter account and saw that some people on the other side of the globe had already begun to celebrate the New Year. Here on the West Coast of the United States we are still several hours away from 2011. Each New Year's Eve I make sure to be in bed early so I can walk the abandoned streets of my city in the quiet of New Year's morning . I am not a party animal.

As I thought of people half way around the globe already celebrating 2011, I realized the coming celebrations revolving around the earth take place depending on what time zone you live in. The New Year is happening in multiple locations in this migrating global celebration which makes me ask a question - "At what time, and on what day, would you celebrate the New Year in the depths of outer space?" Who sets the calendars and clocks out there?

Space, like all created things, is not eternal because God spoke the heavens into existence. Anything created by God in our dimension of time and space is not eternal. While we like to think that outer space is heaven it is not. Heaven is very different and represents a higher reality because it will remain forever.

As I think about what I am writing I find it somewhat amusing to imagine looking from space to earth as it spins and seeing people celebrate the New Year and yelling, "Happy New Year!", from multiple time zones. This amusement is magnified when I think of someone in the future being on a distant planet and sending Happy New Year greetings back to us from a time zone light years away - "Happy New Year from 2711!"

From an eternal reality we live in a New Day that began at the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is continually unfolding. We live in a day without a sunset. This New Day will never end and will continue to expand forever in the presence of God.

I enjoy the reality that God created a time and calendar structure for our lives. In the continuum of time, I have a birthday each year (January 1st) and each year I use the calendar to remember when Jan and I were married (August 25). For those of us bought with the blood of the Lamb Who was slain from the foundation of all that was and is to come, we are also clocking to the beat of a different timepiece that tells me each day, "This is the Day the Lord has made (the year of 2011 included) and I will rejoice and be glad in it."

I am happy for a new year and for the New Year celebration, but I'll be watching the ball drop in New York on tomorrow's news - I will be in bed.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Response Time" by Garris Elkins

If you know me you know that I was a cop prior to becoming a pastor. That part of my life was over 30 years ago. The police experience never really leaves you, it just gets toned down and will always remain in some form. My wife calls me a protector. I go into a certain mode in some situations where I sense danger is afoot. The average person would not even see the potential for danger. For a police officer the repeated exposure to danger, and the training on how to deal with it, changes how you process life.

In police circles there is a phrase - "Response Time." This is the time it takes a police officer to come to your assistance in an emergency. The national average for responding officers runs anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes depending on the location of the officer at the time of the emergency call and how much distance he or she must cover to get to you. A lot can happen to potential a victim in 3-7 minutes if a bad guy has broken into a home and wants to harm those inside. Until the police arrive we are "the police" and we are responsible to protect ourselves and those we love. Without releasing any unneeded sense of fear, this is the reality of life in a fallen world.

As I thought of this response time in a natural setting where bad guys, police and victims occasionally intersect with each other, I also thought of spiritual response times. What happens when you have a spiritual emergency? Who is the first person you call? Calling a pastor or your home group leader is great, but there is a response time before they can get to you or return your call. The devil can do a lot of damage while you wait for someone to arrive.

What if you and I first called the Lord in our times of spiritual emergency? He is always present and not distant - ever. It is good to eventually call the leaders and friends in your life, but calling on the Lord first is where your real safety comes from. Good friends and leaders, when they eventually arrive, will always direct you towards Him anyway. Wouldn't it be powerful if the next time you and I realized hell was trying to break into our lives that in our initial call to a friend to come and meet with us that we let them know while they were responding we were holding the intruder at gunpoint until they arrived?

Having a prepared heart in a fallen world is a heart that is at rest in the night because the One Who is your protector is always there and requires no time to respond in times of need. You call and He is there and this makes the bad guys think twice about messing with you and those you love.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Hidden Streams Revealed" by Garris Elkins

This morning I was hiking in the hills above my home like I do each week. I have hiked these trails for the past 8 years and come away from these times refreshed. Normally, I am a very observant person. Maybe this is because 30 years ago I was a police officer and you stayed alive as a cop by knowing what is taking place around you in your environment. This morning I realized that I was not seeing everything.

As I hiked across a familiar bridge I paused and looked out at a seasonal stream that flows this time of year when the rains come. 150 years ago this stream bed was filled with prospectors seeking their fortune in the Oregon Gold Rush.

I like the sound of moving water - it refreshes and restores me, so I paused longer than normal and just listened. As I looked out I saw another stream about 25 feet away. I took another look and realized that I had never seen this stream before. The flowing water had now made it visible. During the majority of the year this other stream is dry and hidden by brush. These two streams were now merging together 25 feet from me. How could I have not seen this one sometime in the last 8 years? The only reason I could come up with was that I wasn't present on that bridge when the rains came.

As I crossed the bridge and made my way up the trail, I paused to catch my breath and looked back down at the two converging streams and asked, "Lord, is there something in this you want me to see?"

The Lord began to download into my heart what 2011 will bring for some of us. Streams of His presence will be revealed that have been previously hidden from our sight. These streams were not seen because the flow of His presence had not yet been released into those areas. God is about to bring a flow of His presence that will make known new assignments and new direction. Where we would never expect to see God moving we will see Him at work before our eyes.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert." Isaiah 35: 5-6

God is preparing many of us to flow along new stream-beds that will supernaturally appear in our personal deserts. These new courses have been hidden in the past. We have literally walked by them as we went about our daily lives. When the flow starts we will see His plans emerge and many will begin to move into their destiny in Christ along stream beds they have not seen before this moment. What will this mean?

The Hidden will be Revealed -

In those areas of your life and ministry that are habitual and predictable, and where you are expecting more of the same, God plans to reveal hidden stream beds that will be filled with His presence to take you to something new. Joy will return. Hope will be renewed.

The Flow of His Presence is about to Increase -

As the rains in the natural saturate the forests and produce the seasonal run-off that makes a dry stream bed rise, God is about to increase the flow of His presence and show you where to invest your life for this next season. Your greatest investment for a Kingdom return will be in the flow of what God is about to do.

God wants us to experience the refreshment and restoration that comes when we move in the power and pleasure of His River. Like Isaiah said, blind eyes will open, lame people will walk and mute tongues will shout for joy and the water of His presence will flow into your personal desert.