Saturday, December 21, 2013

“This is a Time of Justice and Restoration” by Garris Elkins

We are entering a season where those who have experienced injustice are about to receive supernatural restoration. Throughout history the justice of God has brought restoration to his people who have suffered injustice at the hands of the enemy.  This is not a time for despair and sorrow.  This is a time to begin living in expectancy.  Something wonderful is about to take place.

The Lord is speaking a word of hope in the middle of injustice:

I am about to right this wrong.  The injustice done to you cannot stand in the presence of my justice.  The enemy came to steal, rob and destroy, but watch what I am about to do. My court has issued an official order against this work of injustice in your life.  Give me your sorrow. Give me your despair.  These are illegal orders issued from the courts of darkness. I have destined this season to be a time when my goodness and purpose will be revealed. My mercy and justice is coming. This injustice you are experiencing is about to become a place of celebration and restoration.

In early December I slipped on some ice and ruptured a tendon in my knee. It was one of most painful things I have ever experienced. This injury was not on my radar or included in my life-plan. Within days I was in surgery to repair the torn tendon.  My entire life was rearranged in one moment of time.

Immediately following the accident, I was isolated to a chair or couch with a brace on my leg to keep it uncomfortably extended during the initial healing process.  During this time of recuperation I read. I wrote. I ate food lovingly provided by friends. I did all of these same things each day with no break in my routine. My life became a series of repeats.

One morning I was standing in our bathroom with the support of my crutches.  I had just finished washing my hands.  As I was drying my hands, I felt the overwhelming presence of despair enter the room.  I had never before felt the presence of despair in my life. 

The best way I could describe what I was feeling was that I was being slowly pulled by the current of a powerful river towards the edge of a huge waterfall.  It was a power that seemed impossible to resist. What I was going through felt similar to being in the hospital in preparation for my knee surgery and going under anesthesia. As someone goes under anesthesia reality begins to slip away and you are taken to another place.

In the moment just before despair came with its dark vision, the reality of my injury had hit me with full force. I had been told I would be in this brace for several months followed by a season of rehabilitation not able to do all the things I love to do.

As I stood there looking into the bathroom mirror, the sorrow of my situation was setting me up to embrace hopelessness.  As I drifted towards the edge of despair, I even heard my surgeon’s words, “You should be back to normal in 6-8 months.” I became overwhelmed with sorrow. My sorrow began to anesthetize me to accept what appeared to be inevitable, taking me to a place I had never been before. The closer I got to the waterfall the deeper I went into the numbing effects of my sorrow.

Over the years, I have ministered to people who have drifted towards this edge of despair and sometimes gone over its falls.  Some never returned.  Some came back after years of counseling. I was scared.

Out loud, with the hand towel still hanging from my hands, I said, “I have no despair.  I have hope in God.” In that moment the image disappeared and the despair was gone.  This was no magic, memorized formula. This was a cry from the depth my heart in a desperate moment of great need.  I left the bathroom and told my wife, Jan, what had just happened.  I felt shaken and emotional.

In the next few minutes we took communion and prayed.  Jan walked me through some directed prayer about despair and we made sure any residue of this lying visitor was no longer present.

A week earlier, the day after my knee injury, the Lord said two words to me that would guide me during this season of recovery.  He said this would be a season where I would experience his goodness and purpose.   The vision of despair came to try and rob from me of the goodness and purpose God had planned.

What happened to me was an injustice.  God did not cause me to slip on the ice. Hell used this situation to attempt to steal, rob and destroy through an act of injustice.  God had other plans.  His intent was to bless, affirm and build my life in the midst of my suffering.

The despair I felt had to be challenged or the injustice I experienced would try to define my life.  My future freedom depended upon me confronting despair and the hypnotic influence of ungodly sorrow.  My only hope was found in calling on the God of justice.

Hope is a person, not a theory.  He has authority over the power and imagery of despair.  He has given that same authority to us. Despair cannot stand in his presence, nor can despair continue to pull us towards its place of eventual death, if we call upon God in our time of need. Lies have no power in the light of his presence.

As I began to experience a new sense of personal freedom, the Lord said this coming season would be a time of an unusual outpouring of justice for his people. Scriptures about his justice began to flood my mind.
Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne.” Psalm 89:14
For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly.” Psalm 37: 28a
The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.” Psalm 103:6
For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.” Isaiah 61:8
My mercy and justice are coming soon. My salvation is on the way.” Isaiah 51:5
If you have experienced an injustice, God wants you to hear his heart.  If you have suffered a financial injustice, listen.  If you have suffered injustice in your marriage, listen.  If you have suffered an injustice concerning the destiny of one of your children, listen.   If you suffered an injustice at the hands of another believer, listen.  Listen to the heart of the God of justice. His mercy and justice is coming.  His salvation is on the way.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

“Declaring Life” by Garris Elkins

Earlier this week the Lord spoke to me. He said, “The prayers of some of my people are beginning to sound like a preparation for a funeral – not a proclamation of life.” This word came just hours before our pastoral staff visited the home of a dear man in our church who is fighting Stage Four Cancer.

When we arrived at the man’s home we began to pray for him.  In the midst of our prayers, I shared the word the Lord gave me.  Immediately the faith of my sick friend kicked into high gear and he said, “Yes, I believe the Lord heals. I am not done yet!”  For several more minutes we continued to declare life and healing over our friend.

That same week I was with another friend who is also fighting an advanced cancer in his brain.  We had a similar conversation. This strong man of God also rose up in faith and declared his belief that God was not done with him. Faith releases faith. This is the power of community created through fellowship.  We encourage each other to believe for more.

When the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NLT), he was not writing a line for a religious Hallmark card.  He was declaring that the Life-giver would be among us forever – across all dimensions of time - never diminishing in His ability to heal the sick and set the captives free.

My pastor, Roy Hicks, Jr., once said no matter what we see we are mandated to pray for the sick.  Resignation to death is never part of our assignment. Unless the Lord was to say otherwise - we pray.

Review the substance of your prayers.  If they sound more like “kind” words that prepares someone for death – repent of that as a resignation to the power of death. Our resignation to death is a loss of faith.  Faith is a gift. If you feel lacking in faith, ask for a new measure and God will supply you in abundance.

Our belief is not empowered by our hope for positive results from our prayers for the sick.  Yes, we want our loved ones to be healed, but healing is not where our hope is supposed to rest. A follower of Christ must have their hope anchored only in the Person of Jesus Christ – the One Who is always the same, yesterday, today and forever.  Any other anchor point will become a place of disappointment and sorrow.

Jesus is alive and increasing His healing presence upon the earth.  He is not looking for funeral directors who will make people comfortable as they tolerate our enemy Death. Jesus is looking for Life-speakers who will declare His life in the presence of Death while placing their trust in His unchanging nature.

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.” (Romans 8:15 - The Message)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“Writing A New Future for 2014” by Garris Elkins

Recently I was teaching in a training school for emerging leaders in California.  During a question and answer session someone asked me, “What are you seeing for the year 2014?”

I responded to the question by saying that at the end of each year I would normally ask and wait concerning a word from the Lord for the upcoming year. I did not, however, have a specific word at that time.  As I was responding to the question, the Lord gave me a picture.

I saw an immense sheet of paper that covered a huge tabletop.  The sheet was so large it extended out to the edge of the visible horizon line where it disappeared.  The paper was brilliant white.  Nothing was written on the paper – it was a clean sheet.

The next day, after returning home from the ministry trip, the image came to me once again.  This time I saw a large pen – one of those antique feathered writing pens - descend down into the image and rest just above the surface of the unmarked sheet of paper.  As the pen was suspended over the paper the Lord began to speak to me.

I want you to write something new. I did not just erase words from the past. Rather, I have provided a new place for you to write a fresh script for your life. This is something new I am inviting you to write.

This is your assignment. I want you to write a large future  - a future that may seem presumptive at first.  I give you permission to presume on My goodness.

Write like a person who has discovered My love for the first time. I want you to write in excitement without punctuation.  I want your writing to be breathless with anticipation and expectation – a writing that flows from an increasing excitement at what might be.

I promised in My Word to give you the desires of your heart. I instructed David to write the words, “Delight yourself in Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I am telling you to delight yourself in Me as you write and I will give you the desires of your heart. As you write, your inspiration will come from the increasing level of your delight in Me.  Write as a lover would write from the depths of a shared passion.  Write from your delight in Me and let your passion for Me fuel your text.

When the Lord finished speaking, the pen was still suspended above the sheet of paper. I sensed the pen was waiting for a hand to reach out and take it and begin writing.

God has provided us with prophetic paper, pen and ink.  He wants us to believe He is comfortable with His children writing out a new future as He watches.  Our delighting in the Lord protects what will be written. Our heart’s desire is purified when we first delight in Him.  Our delighting in God must precede our desire for a new future if our desire is to remain pure.

Pick up the pen and begin to write.

         Write a new future for your family.
         Write a new future for your health.
         Write a new future for your church.
         Write a new future for your finances.
         Write a new future for your nation.
         Write a new future for your dream.
         Write a new future for your ministry.
         Write a new future for your city.

Write! Write! Write with a delight in God’s goodness.  The words you write will invite the promises of God to come and join the text of your future. This new script will become the story of a new chapter in your life that is about to unfold in 2014.

Friday, November 22, 2013

“Together in His Presence” by Garris Elkins

Some couples don’t like to talk about death with their spouse, but Jan and I are comfortable with such a conversation. Unless we both enter eternity together – one of us will remain behind. That is a reality of life.

Fourteen years ago we moved to Southern Oregon.  Our first home was in Medford, but after three years we moved to the neighboring historic community of Jacksonville.  This was before the housing bubble began to swell and we could actually afford the little one thousand square foot home we eventually purchased.

Shortly after our move we were visiting the Applegate Trail Museum in Sunny Valley, Oregon.  I was fascinated with the early history of Southern Oregon and the facts surrounding the first wagon train into our area.  After our visit to the museum, I was researching the Applegate Wagon Train of 1846 and came across the manifest listing those present on that historic journey. On the manifest, I found something that amazed me beyond belief.  There on the manifest were some of my relatives. I began to get emotional as I discovered this piece of my history.

On the manifest was listed a man named Alphonso Boone.  Alphonso was a grandson of Daniel Boone, the historic figure from the early history of our nation.  I am also a descendant of Daniel Boone.  I am one his nephews.  My mother’s maiden name is Boone. 

Alphonso eventually settled near Portland, Oregon and his family set up a ferry business along the Willamette River.  That ferry business operated through the mid-1950’s until bridges were built over the river.  Today, Boone’s Ferry Road is a well-known roadway in the area.

Shortly after buying our home in Jacksonville, we purchased burial plots in the historic Jacksonville Cemetery.  We feel the Rogue Valley is our last stop on our earthly journey so buying the plots made sense to us.  Our plots are located on a sloping hillside overlooking the valley.

After finding my relatives on the Applegate Wagon Train, I also discovered some of my other relatives are buried in the cemetery in Jacksonville.  One of those buried here is Alphonso Boone’s son, George.

As you read this, I hope you don’t feel uncomfortable talking about death.  As a believer in the promises of God, death is something that should not sting us with its reality.  We will cry when someone we love dies, but in the end, our physical death will usher us into a promise of something wonderful beyond our wildest dreams.

Jan and I love each other.  We have loved each other for the last 40 years of marriage.  She is my girl and I am her guy.  We only have eyes for each other.  I honestly don’t know where she ends and I begin. That is what oneness is like.  However, a reality exists in our future – someday one of us will die.

Several years ago, as Jan and I walked through the Jacksonville Cemetery we talked about some of the beautiful words engraved on the tombstones we were passing.  I said to Jan, “I think I know what words we should put on our tombstone.”  As we continued to walk I said, “We should put the words, ‘together in His presence.’”

I said we should only capitalize the word, “His”, because we want people walking by our graves someday in the future to know that we were talking about Him – the Lord Jesus.

I shared with Jan the scripture that says the Lord inhabits the praises of His people.  When the remaining one is left here alone, and they begin to worship the Lord, He promises to inhabit their worship.  The one who went on ahead will also be in the presence of the Lord because the Word says that when we are absent from this body we will be present with the Lord.

In other words, both the one left behind and the one in eternity will be together in God’s presence.  They may not see each other, but they will be together in His presence. The closest we would ever be to each other after one of us dies is when the remaining one chooses to worship.

Last week, I was walking alone through the cemetery.  The cemetery is not a spooky place to me.  I love the history and the tender remarks carved into the old headstones by loved ones left behind.  The inscriptions can bring you to tears.  Some were about little babies taken from life who were not yet a year old. Others were killed in the Rogue Valley Indian Wars of the 1850’s. Some lived long and faithful lives.  Each one tells the story of a life.

As I walked down the hill to where our plot is located, I saw a doe deer.  She was standing atop where our physical bodies will someday be buried. I made a remark in jest to the deer about her taking care of our place until we arrived and then I was reminded of a future reality. 

Someday either Jan or I will walk past this same spot – alone.  In those moments when we will surely miss each other the most – the remaining one will make a choice to worship and in that moment become together again in His presence.