Tuesday, October 30, 2012

“The Endorsement of God” by Garris Elkins

Recently, I was channel surfing and came upon the end of a NASCAR race.  The winning driver crossed the finish line and took his victory lap.  After the victory lap he pulled into the Winner’s Circle.  What happened next was interesting.

Once his car came to a stop he climbed out of the driver’s side window and sat atop his car.  His vehicle was covered with advertisements and company logos.  Every square inch of the car was covered with product endorsements for things like sports drinks, car insurance, home refinancing companies and motor oil. The car was a piece of rolling advertising artwork that brought in huge income paid by the advertisers.

As I continued to watch the victory celebration, one of the driver’s assistants ran up to him with a baseball hat that had a company logo on the front of the cap.  As soon as his hat was on his head the assistant handed the driver a can of some kind of sports drink. 

You could tell the driver was schooled about camera presence because he kept the drink close to his face. The products were now in the hand of “a winner.” The not-so-subtle message was that if you used these products and drank this drink you could also be “a winner.”  All of this was taking place as the pit crew was shaking and squirting champagne all over the driver and anyone else within twenty feet.  It was a joyous moment, this endorsement party in the Winner’s Circle.

After I moved on and channel surfed my way to a news show, I thought of where I had recently read the word, “endorsed”, in the Bible.  It was in Acts 2 where Peter was trying to explain what happened on the Day of Pentecost to an amazed crowd of people who just saw God do something no human words could adequately explain.

Peter said, “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.” (Acts 2:22)

This verse followed Peter quoting the prophecy from Joel 2 where God promised to pour out His Spirit on the Church allowing us to do things not in our natural abilities to accomplish. Joel prophesied a coming endorsement for the Church that God was in our midst.

As I read this verse, I realized those of us in the church in Western cultures need to be careful when we pull into our personal Winner’s Circle of life and ministry. We need to be careful we are endorsing things that required God to show up and do something beyond our best plans and programs. 

We cannot accomplish the task Jesus gave us as His Church without the manifestation of His power in our cities. This is the endorsement that He is in our midst. The frontiers of darkness are not breached by the kindest of our intentions or by the most noble of our good works.

This kind of an endorsement means that we will have to redefine the Winner’s Circle.  This needs to be a place where there is only one product being endorsed – the supernatural works of God.  Without the manifestation of this kind of victory our cities will remain untouched by the love and power of God.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

“The Hush, a Can of Beer and an Answered Prayer” by Garris Elkins

I live in an area surrounded by beautiful mountains.  This area used to be part of the old Oregon Territory that was comprised of the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and bits of Montana and Wyoming.  Before statehood, if someone was “going to Oregon”, they would have been defining a very large piece of real estate. The Oregon Territory began to fragment as newly formed states emerged in the region in the 1800’s.

To the west and south of our home are the Siskiyou Mountains.  These mountains straddle the Oregon-California border.  The pioneers called them the Boundary Mountains because they separated the Spanish Empire of Old California from the Oregon Territory.

From time-to-time I like to get out and hike in the Siskiyou Mountains.  On these hikes I am looking for what I call, “The Hush.”  The Hush is a deep pocket of forest where the sounds of civilization cannot reach.  You find these quiet places as you hike along and then all of a sudden the mufflers of silence surround your ears and you are there – in The Hush. 

When I walk into these quiet places I always stop and listen to the nothingness.  These places soften and restore those edgy parts of my life created by the noise of culture.

On one particular hike in late spring I was hiking above Applegate Lake.  The roads were still impassable by the remaining drifts of snow.  Some of these drifts were a few feet deep and getting across them took some effort. 

These drifts lingered into early summer under the shadows cast by tall trees.  Where the sun was able to penetrate the forest, its warmth would melt away the snow revealing fresh moist soil now visible after a long buried winter.

For about an hour, I had been working my way along an abandoned logging road pressing through the drifts of snow.  I had worked up a good sweat.  On these hikes, I go prepared with a backpack containing water, food and some basic survival gear.

As I rounded a bend in the road, I stopped and stood in the bright sunlight. It was almost midday.  The sun was warming the back of my shirt.  I felt really good to simply stand there.  Then I realized I was standing in “The Hush.”  As my body drew in the warmth of the sun through my sweat-laden skin, I also took in the therapeutic blessing that comes from experiencing the absence of sound.  I felt so good to be there and simply be aware of the moment I was experiencing.

I uttered one of those conversational prayers that resemble a continuing fragment of an on-going dialogue with your Maker. Out loud in a resting exhale, I said, “Lord, it sure would be nice to have a cold beer.” To some this might sound like a strange request from a pastor, but I prayed it and that is the fact.

As soon as I voiced my desire, I turned my head and looked at the snow bank ahead of me.  What happened next runs the risk of sounding made up, but you will have to trust me on this one – there in the snow bank was a single, unopened, can of beer.  I thought someone was playing a joke on me until I reached down and realized it was not a piece of litter, but a full can. All I can figure out was that someone had dropped the can last winter and there it stayed until it was uncovered in the melting snow.

As I held the can of beer in my hand, I looked up through the top of the trees and let out a huge laugh that broke the silence of The Hush. I said, “God, you are amazing.”  It was time to eat, so I sat down and pulled out my lunch and popped open the can of beer.  I have eaten in some fine dining establishments in my life, but this was one of the best. I was feeling really thankful.

I have some dear friends that would probably think the devil put the can of beer there in the snow bank to try to entice me to drunkenness.  Since that lunch, I have thought about those dear souls. If they ever bring it up, I would probably say if the devil wanted me drunk he should have left a half case of beer in the snow bank instead of that single can.

As I look back on that moment, I think the can of beer was a gift.  The God we serve is the same God Who turned the water into wine at a wedding 2,000 years ago. He is probably OK with letting one of his sons connect with a cold beer in the snow.

After lunch, I crushed the can and packed it out.  That event happened almost ten years ago and it still amazes me. As the years go by, I find myself more at ease with this Almighty God Who is revealing Himself to me as a Father Who waits in the hushed places to answer my prayers in the most unusual ways.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“Man Made Formulas of Faith” by Garris Elkins

Today, there are many formulas floating around the American Church promising success. If you do this – that will happen. They don’t require much faith – you simply follow the formula and you will arrive at your spiritual Disneyland.

Most of these so-called formulas perpetuate a mindset that has crippled the effectiveness of the Western Church. Here are a few of these formulas:

“You need to read in order to lead.”

The need to read in order to be an effective leader in the Church is a phrase that has surfaced in our educationally empowered Western culture.  I don’t mean to say that reading is a bad thing.  It is simply overrated.

This formula doesn’t hold water in the interior of China where a leader may not own a book and may only possess only a small fragment of the Bible. If a phrase doesn’t work in the outback of Africa or the interior of China maybe we should cull it from our Western church vocabulary.

I have always thought the best leaders led from a place of revelation.  Maybe that is why so many leaders in the undeveloped parts of the globe are now leading in the power of the Spirit instead of the published opinions from someone in a developed nation.

“If you build it, they will come.”

Just before the Recession hit, faithful pastors I know bought into this formula and led their churches into building programs that could not be paid for once the bottom of our economy fell out.   It doesn’t take faith to get a bank loan.  All you need is the good credit that came when the financial bubble was in full bloom.

People will only come to what we construct if God is the One calling them.  He is not calling those in our care to come and pay for our presumption. He is not impressed with the brick and mortar facilities we build in His name.

“Dress for success.”

When I lived in a developing nation, I remember how poor the people were.  They had two changes of clothing.  One set was literally rags worn to work the fields during the week and the other was a polyester suit from the 1970’s pulled from a “missionary barrel” to wear to church on Sunday. These leaders were wildly successful in God’s eyes, but not in a culture where we have a great deal of discretionary income we can devote to the changing tastes of personal attire.

“Do things decently and in order.” 

This formula has led some to create controlled church environments that are structured around a fear that warns us things could somehow get out of hand.  A wise theologian once told me when Paul used the words, “decency and in order”, those words actually mean, “What is appropriate.”

Paul was not issuing a prudish prohibition.  What was decent about Jesus smearing spit-laced mud in a blind man’s eye? What was orderly about His tipping over tables in the Temple? What made sense when He said to eat His flesh and drink His blood?  Jesus was not tidy.  What is appropriate is our obedience to whatever God asks us to do in the moment, no matter who likes it or not.

The danger with these kinds of statements is for some they have actually become formulas for success in life and ministry. Faith can never be reduced to a formula that guarantees a predictable outcome.  Faith has us step into dark and undefined places where we have never stepped before. Faith produces actions that are not always figured out before we take the step. Simplistic formulas cause us to invest in things attainable only by our natural logic and human understanding.

These formulas produce a way of thinking that infers “it” can only happen along my narrow lines of definition.  Our formulas also have a by-product - they begin to exclude people from our lives who do life and ministry different from us.  Our formulas become the knives we use to amputate parts of Christ’s body that don’t fit into our equation.

Ephesians 3:20, is the wrecking ball used to demolish these manmade formulas.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Whenever I read this verse, I am reminded of those times I have failed God and His people by trying to create formulas through which I would evaluate them or include them in what I perceived God was doing. I have had to repent of this a few times over the years.

God is at work outside and beyond our formulas in those places that require a raw exercise of faith. This can have us looking like we don’t fit anyone’s formula.  It is in these times that God does His most profound work apart from our manmade attempts to formulize how He accomplishes His will.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

“Declare Your Testimony into Your Approaching Future” by Garris Elkins

I am tucked away in a lodge outside of Bend, Oregon on a writing retreat.  For the last three days I have been assembling and editing my personal God-experiences and testimonies, an exercise I have been encouraged by the Lord to do over the last two years.

For three days I have been reading again the personal words, testimonies and stories of God’s interaction with me over my lifetime.  Revisiting these words and their accompanying testimonies has overwhelmed me with the faithfulness and presence of God.

One morning on this writing retreat, the Lord awakened me before sunrise to sit and pray in front of the fireplace.  As the flames danced before me in the early morning darkness, the Lord began to speak. “Have My people assemble their testimonies about Me and begin to declare them into their approaching future.”

As I heard this instruction from the Lord, I immediately saw an image.  It was an image of an advancing army of believers. The weapons they carried were not rifles or spears. They carried testimony.  As they advanced declaring their individual testimonies, the enemy strongholds embedded in their future were being destroyed by the power of their words. 

I saw these followers of Jesus holding simple sheets of paper before their faces reading the words of their testimonies as they walked forward.  The words went out with such force that they struck the waiting armies of darkness like powerful exploding rockets.  I saw entire encampments of demonic forces explode and come apart from the impact of these words of testimony.

The release of the miraculous power that was now present was the same power that created the testimony in the first place.  It was now being released again with the same force into the future. The anointing that empowered the original testimonies was now fully present in these future battles. 

In this vision, I was reminded that as we speak words of testimony into our approaching future, words that define and proclaim God’s faithfulness in our past, the weapons formed against us that wait in our future will be destroyed. Lies attached to a foreboding image of our future will lose their ability to prosper.

Like Joshua and the people of Israel, everything God had promised came to pass. God had promised that Israel would have victory and rest, possessing and dwelling in a land of promise.

Joshua 21:45 says, “Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel.  All came to pass.”  This confidence in God to fulfill what He promised was repeated by Joshua at the end of his life in his farewell address.  Joshua repeated these same words, declaring his personal testimony and reminding the people, “…not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.” (23:14)

We can rise up in the same confidence Joshua possessed and declare our testimony.  Today, assemble the words of God’s faithfulness from your past and begin to speak them into your future.  We were not given these testimonies to remember them only as documents of history.  These words have been given to us as supernatural weapons to send out into our approaching future. 

As the power of our testimony is released, we will arrive on future battlefields and find the enemy lying in ruins upon our arrival. These will be places of victory where the only weapon discharged will have been words of faith spoken in a personal testimony of God’s faithfulness.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

“End with the Beginning in Mind” by Garris Elkins

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s many pastors in America hung out in the business section of their local bookstore.  In those aisles stuffed with business knowledge were books that drew their titles from subjects like swimming with sharks, searching for excellence, creating wealth and a one-minute approach to business, health and everything else. All the titles were verb-oriented. We all wanted to get things moving.

One book that stood out, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, was written by Stephen Covey. Covey helped guide people into more productive lives.  Most of us read the book and implemented its concepts into our personal lives and ministries.  Covey’s points made sense. For many years these principles served us well and still do in some circumstances.

There are many life-plan programs out there. Covey is now one among many. What I have come to realize about life-plans is that they work long-term if they are built upon a word from God.  The development of a plan must follow a word of revelation that is only available from God by His Spirit.  If the plan is to work it must rest on revelation. In the middle of the night when doubt and fear come visiting, it will be the word, and not a plan, that will bring us comfort.

One of Covey’s classic lines was, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Stephen Covey asked us to imagine the finished product before we began to create a plan to make our vision a reality. With that finished product in mind we would then return to the present moment and create and define measurable steps of a process that would lead us to the realization of our desired goal.

While Covey was right about developing a plan, there is something going on in my heart that is shifting the process around.  Many of us have done life and ministry for a long time and we are looking for a jump-start to reignite our vision and calling.  We want a plan to finish well. 

To finish well requires that we make adjustments now for a strong finish later.  This way of planning for a strong finish has us start with the beginning, not the end, in mind. Some of us will need recapture our beginning if we are going to experience fruitfulness in our ending.

Several years ago, I was in Indianapolis for a training event and had the pleasure of having lunch with Dr. Bob Logan. Bob is well known in church circles for developing leadership training and church planting materials that are considered some of the best around.

During one of the lunch breaks, I sat at a table with Bob and several others. As the lunch conversation continued I asked a question. “Bob, what advice do you give to individuals or organizations who have plateaued or are in decline – how do you help them get moving again?” I asked this question knowing that Bob is very gifted in evaluating the effectiveness of individuals and corporations and his advice is utilized with great confidence.

Bob's answer was interesting. He said, “The first thing I ask is this, 'What was your original vision.'” He went on to say that most leaders are able to recite their vision in great detail. Bob would then ask a set of questions to determine if the leaders were still functioning in their original vision. Within plateaued or declining corporations and ministries there was a common reality - each one had stopped doing the very thing that brought them success in the first place. They had ceased doing their original vision.

Bob then shared a deep nugget of truth with me, “Each time someone rediscovered their original vision, and began to do it once again, in each case, without exception, they began to move forward and grow.”

When those words of wisdom were shared, I sat there wonderfully stunned by what I just heard. The lunch conversation continued to move around the table, but I was still processing the words, “in each case, without exception”.

When God does an original work in our lives there is more going on than something new and refreshing. In these times foundations are being built and vision is being cast. Those first few years when God is doing an original work in our lives is the place where He develops and defines the DNA structure that will carry us into the future towards a fruitful end. Most of the decisions I make today are sourced in the original truth and wisdom I learned in my first few years of ministry. 

My wife and I had a recent discussion about our years in ministry. The times of personal renewal and redirection that have taken place over the last 30 years have always centered on the rediscovery of that original DNA and reengaging it.

At this point in our lives we are living out those basic truths in deeper and wider applications that many years of service can bring. Our vision for life and ministry may be deeper and wider now in its application, but it is all based on the original truth revealed to us in those early years of our calling.

What did God give you as a vision or direction when you first began your journey of faith? Are you doing that now? If not, chances are your life and ministry has either plateaued or is in decline. You might be scrambling around for a new word or some fresh concept to grasp. Maybe your answer for a jump-start is already in your life and simply needs to be revisited, redefined and reengaged. Go back to the beginning and take a new look at that original word, embrace its truth and new life will begin to flow once again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

“If You Learn to Love this One – I will Send you More” by Garris Elkins

As young church planters, Jan and I knew very little about what it meant to plant a church.  We had a calling and a measure of faith and that was all. When we entered the ministry very little was available in resource materials on how to plant a church. I think our early ministry embodied the phrase, “winging it.”

When we arrived in Kalispell, Montana we set up our home and then I went around town trying to find a place to hold our church services.  If we were to do it all over again we would have started in our home, but this was the model for church planting in our day.

I found a local hotel called the Outlaw Inn.  The Outlaw Inn had rooms to rent so I secured a room to seat 50 people and had the chairs set up for our first public service. They gave us the Colt 45 room.  I revisited that room a few years ago and wept as I pondered all that God has done in our lives since our awkward start. 

For the next six weeks we never knew where we would set up each Sunday for our church services.  The hotel could see we weren’t happening so they moved us around to whatever room was available. We would arrive early on Sunday mornings and check in with the front desk to find out our newly assigned room.

For the following six weeks, as we were moved from room to room, we had only one person attending our meetings.  Her name was Gladys.  Gladys looked to be in her late 60’s.  She had lived a rough life.  She couldn’t drive so our church meeting, located just across the street from her home, was a good match for her needs.

Gladys liked to have a nip of gin each morning.  Looking back, I think Gladys was a lonely and functioning alcoholic. For the six weeks our church met in the Outlaw Inn, Gladys faithfully sat next to my wife, Jan, on the front row with my two kids as the remaining 46 empty chairs stared back at me while I led worship (Acapella - without instruments) and preached the Word.

At the end of each service this dear little drunk lady would walk up to me, look up into my face and as she exhaled her gin-infused breath into my face would say, “Thank you, Pastor.  I needed to hear that.”

As I look back on those words of thanks I can appreciate them now at many different levels.  I did not appreciate them at the time. At that time in my life I had a vision of ministry success that did not include empty chairs and drunk people.

About four weeks into our church planting adventure, I felt like an utter failure.  In my naivety I believed that if you mixed enough faith with a passion to plant a church one would magically appear. It didn’t and I began to get depressed.

At week four I asked God why all of this was happening.  Why are only drunk Gladys and my wife and kids showing up? Then the Lord spoke to me and said, “If you learn to love this one, I will send you more.”

Two weeks later we had enough of the revolving meeting room issue and decided to move the “church” into our home.  Within weeks a trickle of new faces began to arrive on our doorstep and growth began.

I never saw Gladys after we moved.  She either disappeared or we simply lost contact with her.  Of all the great things I have had the privilege to learn over my 30-plus years of ministry, what God taught me through Gladys is one of the most profound. “If you learn to love this one, I will send you more.”

I needed to learn how to love. I thought I knew how to love people until God sent me Gladys.  God can only entrust the precious lives of people He loves to shepherds who will love them as well. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

“What I Learned from the Berlin Airlift” by Garris Elkins

Living in Berlin, Germany brought to me many memorable moments.  One of those moments took place because of a decision I made to stop and buy some fruit.

After World War II, the Soviets were one of the major powers to occupy postwar Berlin along with the United States, Britain and France.  Berlin was sectioned off and became a divided city.  East Berlin reflected the drab oppression of Communism.  West Berlin was like a colorful garden-island of freedom.  After the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 it was like the surrounding pond of oppression was drained away leaving the beautiful island of West Berlin standing for the world to see. Even into the late 1990’s, when Jan and I lived in Berlin, this contrast still lingered in some neighborhoods.

In 1998, the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift was celebrated in Berlin.  The Berlin Airlift was an aerial supply line used to bring food and supplies to the residents of isolated West Berlin after the Soviets cut off supply lines in an attempt to gain a deeper hold on the city.

At the time the airlift began, in the summer of 1948, the people of West Berlin only had 36 days of food on hand and a small supply of coal. Feeding the two million residents of the city would require that 1,534 tons of food and 3,475 tons of coal be flown into the city each day. To accommodate this massive airlift flights would take off every four minutes, around the clock, seven days a week to bring food into the city. It was a massive and merciful undertaking.

That day in 1998, when I stopped to buy fruit, was like any other in my daily routine in Berlin.  I had business downtown and used the S-Bahn to commute into the heart of the city.  On my return, my last S-Bahn stop was in our neighborhood of Lictherfelde.  Under the train platform was a small kiosk where a vendor sold fruit. 

As I stood in front of the fruit stand a man approached who looked to be in his 70’s.  When he asked to buy some fruit from the vendor I could tell from how he spoke that he was an American, so I introduced myself. 

After we exchanged introductions, he told me that he was in Berlin to attend the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift.  He was one of the pilots who flew those daring and dangerous missions. He had been invited to come and be honored for his service to the nation.

Many pilots who flew the Berlin Airlift lost their lives flying missions that took place in the most challenging weather conditions. Today, in Berlin a monument stands honoring the 39 British and 31 American pilots who lost their lives flying those dangerous airlift flights. These were brave men.

One of the things the pilot shared with me was something called, “Operation Little Vittles”. Operation Little Vittles was created by the pilots as a way to shower the children of Berlin with candy and gum.  The pilots put together miniature parachutes with candy and gum attached and tossed them out of their aircraft as they flew over the city. Hundreds of children would run to the landing zones of these little parachutes and taste candy and gum that had become a very rare treat in post-war Germany.

The Berlin Airlift was such an operational success and political humiliation that it forced the Soviets and East German Communists to eventually lift the blockade on the city.  Shortly after midnight on May 12, 1949 the blockade of Berlin ended.

The mission of these brave pilots speaks to me of what I see as part of the mission of the Church.  Many lives in our communities are walled off behind works of darkness and God has given His Church a calling to bring life to those who struggle behind those barriers. The Church is their only hope.

As I pondered what these pilots accomplished, I was amazed that amidst the technical flying skills required of them, they added a creative component to their mission by dropping candy on the hungry children of Berlin.

So much of what I have found myself involved with over the last 30 years of serving the Church has been the tedious part of my calling – the business of ministry. God wants us to be faithful to do all the things we need to do to get the job done. This is part of being faithful to our calling. I have also learned that we are never to get so involved in the rescue of souls, and the business of ministry, that we can’t find a way to drop candy on those we are called to rescue.  I think it is important to God that joy is part of the rescue plan.

Monday, October 1, 2012

“Social Media and Words for this Season” by Garris Elkins

Social media can be a powerful tool when used properly. Along with a Facebook account, I also have a Twitter account.  I am coming to appreciate Twitter more because it forces me to be concise.  Twitter only allows 140 characters for a user to craft a sentence. This concise space requirement has produced millions of proverbial quotes coming from millions of users around the world.

In the last year, Twitter has been used on the ground in social conflicts to inform international news agencies of the latest up-to-the-moment developments. In the recent cultural upheaval in the Middle East, Twitter was a powerful tool used to keep the world informed.

The Lord asked me to review the last month of my Twitter feeds. As I reviewed the month of September, I saw a trend. It was like I was reading something formed like the Book of Proverbs, where the short single sentences seemed to be drawing from a larger word the Lord was speaking.

As I reviewed these Twitter comments, I noticed that some of what the Lord had given me pertains to what is taking place in the American culture during our current election cycle and in other nations where social change is taking place.  

As you read this collection of words that form a larger word, ask the Spirit for wisdom for personal application and ask Him how to live in these times as His prophetic voice of hope to your family, your city and your nation.

“I am convinced that in our current world situation the Church must walk in a fresh prophetic revelation in order to find its way.”

“After the election God will still be on the Throne. After the recession He will still be our provider. After nations vanish He will remain.”

“The longer I walk with Jesus the more I realize some issues that used to concern me have now been placed on the shelf of insignificance.”

“Don't trade your anointing for a political position.”

“When the Spirit falls on a community or a nation He is not required to fall into our narrowly defined religious boundaries and preferences.”

“Losing interest is not always a negative. Losing interest can be a work of the Spirit shifting our focus from the old towards something new.”

“Don't allow the drama of culture to draw you away from the peace of God.”

“The danger of labeling people is that once we label anyone we eliminate them from the conversation. Labels mark the end of thinking.”

“Our most honest responses to life are given when we realize that no person or institution has anything we need to be happy or complete.”

“Political parties and gallows both have platforms. Be careful where you stand - both can hang you if you trust them to save you.”

“An election cycle will reveal our eschatology.”

“Prophesy to the problem - preach to the solution”.

“Jesus method of correction was through image-casting. The Pharisees method was through stone-casting.”

“Resist the demand to become a mouthpiece for anyone except the Holy Spirit.”

“A sense of freedom comes when those who oppose us no longer have anything to offer us in exchange for our opinion.”

“In Jesus' day the political spirit swirled throughout the culture trying to draw Him into their arguments about their inferior kingdom.”

“Jesus moved forward through the seams of culture and politics only giving them attention when honor was required. A good choice for us today.”