Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hope - The Way Forward in 2016

In all of human history, the way forward has always been revealed by a word of hope. Responding in the opposite spirit will become one of our most important weapons in the spiritual war we are facing. Instead of a fear monger choose to become a hope monger. Even if you issue a Spirit-birthed warning it must be overshadowed with tones of hope if it is to be considered a credible word from the Lord.

For 2016 do not align your life or your resources with any hopeless message of despair. These negative mindsets are a solvent that will eventually dissolve your hope. No matter what you see taking place in the world never forget that goodness will always triumph over evil - every time. Choose to become a voice of hope in the coming year and watch how God will begin to use you to open doors that only the key of hope could unlock.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Be Careful with Calendars

Calendars are only a tool of time. God is not limited by the constraints of any calendar - secular or religious. He lives and ministers to us from timeless eternity. God can choose to work within our measurements of time, but He is never limited by these measurements.

As you approach 2016 don't overemphasize the importance of calendars or dates. Look beyond these physical representations of time and watch the hand of God. This shift in your focus will set you up to move freely with God when He decides to interrupt your understanding of calendared time. If you can do this you will not stand in confusion when a sudden work of the Spirit takes place outside the planned and expected events of your calendar.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Seen and Not Heard

Thankfully the phrase used by some parents, “Children are to be seen and not heard” is no longer a popular piece of parenting advice.  Similar phrases and slogans have become assumptions passed down from one generation to the next without taking the time to discover their demeaning result. Yes, children need to know when to politely enter a conversation, but relegating a child to a life of silence among adults dishonors them and presents an image of a god who perpetually sees them as an interruption.  Jesus said to not hinder children from coming to Him.  Jesus knew children would approach Him with undeveloped social skills and it did not bother Him.

Imagine if God were to say, “I want my children to be seen and not heard.” A prohibition against a two-way conversation with God would effectively create a relationship of silence and it would kill the rise of any future prayer movement where talking with God is central to its mission. The “seen and not heard” kind of comment is not alone.  We all can find ourselves parroting other equally foolish and unthinking phrases without considering their content and affect.

As 2016 rises on the horizon of your calendar take some time to review the words you speak – many made with innocent assumption – and check their validity and place in your vocabulary. There are similar phrases you may need to review and reconsider to see if they should remain in your future conversations. This review and reconsideration is part of the renewal process of our thinking. When you challenge these assumptions you will upset some people.  That’s OK. This is the substance of a two-way conversation where we learn how to grow in grace with each other. It also helps to keep our voice sounding credible to a world tired of worn-out religious cliché.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Two Kinds of Judgment

There are two kinds of judgment. One is healthy and one is not. The first kind of judgment belongs to God alone. Only He is capable of judging the true condition of a human heart. The second form of judgment is something Jesus asked us to do. He said we are to judge (examine) the quality of fruit in a persons life. We are asked to judge this way to determine how to help someone who has consumed the rotted fruit of dishonor and a loveless expression of life. Our ministry in their life is to offer them the freshly picked fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When the sweetness of this fresh fruit of the Spirit bursts into their soul they will be free to judge for themselves how they want to live and hopefully choose the better way.

Let God judge the motives of a human heart. Before you enter the New Year, invite God to judge the fruit of your heart first before you attempt to judge another. This will cause your insight into the life of broken people to be seen through the lens of an experienced mercy and the redeeming heart of God.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Cross-species Spiritual Harvest

This morning, I saw an image of a tree growing tomatoes. I had to do a double take even as I realized what I was seeing was an image birthed in the Spirit. Then the Lord said to me, “I will bear fruit that will seem out of place and out of species. My fruit will appear in places contrary to natural thinking. I will hang the fruit of My presence in places you have considered impossible to bear fruit. This will be My testimony to you of the beginning of something new.”

As you look up into the branches of 2016 expect to see the fruit of God’s presence hanging in the most unusual places – places some in the Church have said are impossible to bear cross-species fruit. God has grafted His presence into these impossible situations as a testimony of His love and power. He is inviting you to come and taste His goodness.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Gift of a Christmas Orange

Every Christmas morning we have given our children a Christmas stocking stuffed with small gifts.  This has become a family tradition.

As I write these words, Jan and I are waiting for our adult children to enter our living room to be greeted by their familiar stocking. We have our children open their stockings first before we hand out the larger gifts. The stockings we have used for these many years were knitted by their grandmother, Kathleen Parry​.

Each year we put an orange at the very bottom of each stocking.  This is a reminder of our family history.  My father, Charlie Elkins, once told me the best Christmas he ever had as a young boy was the year he actually got a present.  His family lived at the edge of poverty like many during the Great Depression. His favorite Christmas was the one when he received an orange as a gift. Oranges were considered very special. My wife, Jan​, later told me the same thing happened to her father, Homer Parry. 

These single oranges  have reminded our children through all their growing up years the most simple of gifts can carry the most profound impact.  This year discover the simple things. They are the memories that will remain through the changing seasons of life. Merry Christmas to each of you and may the coming New Year be filled with increasing joy and peace.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The End of a Slack Tide Season

This morning, I heard the Lord say, “You are in a slack tide moment.” I had to go to the dictionary to find the definition of the phrase, “Slack Tide”. A Slack Tide is that moment of time between the incoming and outgoing tidal current – a moment of pause between high and low tide. One dictionary said it is a moment where the water is not stressed by current and has become slack awaiting a change of direction.

This word from the Lord was not a corrective word about being slack in a loose sense, but a word of expectation. It is describing a moment of time between changing seasons. Many of us are feeling something is about to change. We have been in a prolonged in between time waiting for new direction.

As I was writing this word someone shared a word today from Cindy Jacobs titled, The Year The Tide Turns. Others are beginning to prophesy the same thing. Change is coming to the status quo. Some of you have created lifestyles in a slack season that will be tested once the current begins to move in a new direction. The coming test is not meant to be a negative experience. God is sending this change of direction to give you an opportunity to rest and go with the flow of His Spirit. God is about to move you into something new and wonderful. When this change begins rest and trust the Spirit’s leading. Your destiny and the destinies of those you love, is directly linked to this change of direction and your willingness to move with its flow. You do not have to fight what is coming. It is a work of God.

A Forever Christmas

The flesh-present of Christmas,
God in man, man in God.
Wrapped as union,
deity and desperation joined
together in blood, muscle, bone and spirit.
Walking together
in divine cadence through
veils of time and restricting space.
Experiencing together
impossible things
with the all-things-are-possible-God.
Without this willing One coming
dressed in the clothing of our flesh
He would still be the distant,
Unknown One.
Now this Emmanuel God,
this flesh and bones God with us,
walks as me and me as He,
together, in a forever Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Telling An Unbelievable Story

In the fourth grade at San Tomas Elementary School we had what was called, “Show and Tell”.  We did Show and Tell each Monday morning in our class.  Kids would stand in front of their classmates and share what happened to them over the weekend.  Sometimes kids would demonstrate a new skill they had acquired or show the rest of us a really cool birthday gift. I am sure this exercise was created to develop our communication skills and to open us to a wider world through the experience of others.

I was raised in the home of a contractor.  Dad worked hard all week long and on the weekends he liked to go places with his family.  Dad was an outdoorsman so we found ourselves hunting or fishing in some new spot on many of these expeditions.  Dad’s Chevy Apache pickup truck had a small camper shell on the back so he would have mom sit up front with him and my brother and I would jump in the back and let dad lead us on to our next adventure.  These adventures would happen a least a couple of times a month and served as my stories for the Show and Tell time in class.

My mother shared with me one parent teacher conference with my fourth grade teacher. At the end of the conference the teacher raised a concern.  She said,  “Garris has a very vivid imagination and I am concerned he may be living too much in a fantasy world.”  My mom said, “Please give me an example.”  The teacher went on to describe my last Show and Tell.  My mom said, “Well, that is actually true.” The teacher brought up another example. “That is true, also.” After the teacher exhausted her list of examples and heard my mother say, “All those stories are true” the meeting was finished.

I told this story to create a context to share what I am sensing the Lord wants to do in the Church.  The Church can do many things that are honorable and heartfelt, but lack a storyline that is unbelievable.  The world is waiting for us to share a testimony that is unbelievably true. An unbelievable story is one that can only be told if God shows up and does what only He can do. We call these stories a testimony of signs, wonders and miracles.

As the New Year approaches the Lord is asking us to join Him in His exploits in the supernatural that when shared within our distinct cultural context, will seem unbelievable to our hearers. These unbelievable exploits will require that we step out from our religious routine and follow the leading of the Spirit into unfamiliar territory where the unbelievable stories of faith are waiting to be told.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Full Spectrum Church

When Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” With that statement, Jesus was telling His disciples there were more people doing the will of the Father in that moment than just their small band of disciples. In our context it is a reminder for those who see the ministry of the Church as only signs, wonders and miracles to believe for something more. 

Jesus also said, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”  In this second statement Jesus was telling those present and those of us in the future, to believe for an ongoing, miraculous work of the Spirit and not settle for a ministry of only good works.

The key wording in both of these sections of scripture is - “in my name”. With these two statements Jesus illustrated the full spectrum of supernatural ministry in the Church.  We have a tendency to gravitate to either side of this spectrum thinking those in our particular camp are the only ones doing the will of the Father. Those uncomfortable with the messiness of miracles and supernatural manifestations will attempt to build a ministry around cups of water. Those who think a cup of water ministry is a sell-out will get so involved in contending for miracles that they ignore the instruction of the Lord to see a miracle in a cup of water.

As you prepare to enter 2016 ask the Lord to transform you into a full spectrum believer.  Approach the brokenness of culture with a cup of water in one hand and a bottle of healing oil in the other.  Listen for His voice to tell you which one is His will in the moment. You will be amazed what a cup of water or a drop of oil can do in His name when empowered by His Spirit.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Taste of Something New

In the mid-1950’s our family lived in the small town of Los Gatos, California. Los Gatos was a suburb of San Jose that would eventually become known as the Silicon Valley. One of the things our family liked to do was go to drive-in movies. Mom and dad would make a bed in the back seat of the family Oldsmobile and dress my brother and I in our pajamas. We would fall asleep shortly after the movie began giving my mom and dad some alone time in the front seat.

I remember one occasion in 1957 when we went to a drive-in movie. One part of that night printed itself upon my memory. Just before the movie started, my dad went to the snack bar and returned with a pizza. This was the first pizza our family had ever seen or tasted. It was all of 6 inches across and was topped with tomato sauce and cheese. Mom cut the little pizza into four pieces and we all had a taste – a first taste. To this day, I can still remember that experience. It was wonderful and unusual to my developing palate. In the coming months a pizza parlor opened in our small town. The name of the place was Magoo’s Pizza. We went to Magoo’s whenever we wanted to experience again the taste of pizza our family first discovered at the drive-in.

As I recalled that night in 1957 and tasting pizza for the first time, the Lord interrupted my recollection and said, “I am bringing a fresh taste of my Spirit to the Church.” When I heard the Lord speak, I realized this new taste would be the first indicator that we would be entering a new season in God’s Kingdom. We need a fresh taste of something new because some of what we are doing now has numbed our spiritual palate with its predictability and routine. Some of us have become so accustomed to the current flavor of our religious activity that we have stopped believing for something more.

A fresh taste of God’s presence is coming. Like my earthly father who brought pizza back to our family car, the Lord is about to do the same with His Church. When we taste this new work of the Spirit it will cause us to reorder our lives to make sure we are with like-minded people who want to taste that freshness again and again. In that spiritual reordering of our lives we will know we have been changed when we find ourselves wanting to repeat that first taste of goodness, just like our family did when we discovered Magoo’s Pizza had opened up for business in my hometown.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

Friday, December 18, 2015

Speaking Words of Hope to a Fearful Culture

When we take a position on any social or spiritual issue and defend our position with an anger-filled discourse of fear we will begin to separate our selves from the very people God has called us to love without condition. Unchallenged this angry fruit of fear will disempower our voice as cultural change agents. We are in a moment of history where we need to rediscover the simplicity of the Gospel and return to its message of hope.

Our culture has arrived at an angry and violent intersection of unresolved fear. This has taken place because a message of hope seemed too simplistic for many in the Church and has been abandoned. Some have replaced the message of hope with solutions similar to the ones offered by an unredeemed culture. This is about to change. A revival of hope is coming. The works of God are about to be displayed in overwhelming measure in those places where hope has cleared away the debris of fear and revealed a new way forward.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Follow the Money

There is a popular phrase in our culture – “Follow the money.” This phrase is used as a road map to find the source of why certain things take place. If you use this as your primary investigative tool there is a problem. At the end of your search you will only discover the depository that holds the money. You have to go one step deeper. What lies under the money is the motive that directs the power and influence the money provides. This deeper level is what you want to uncover because it will reveal what really motivates behavior and directs the expenditure of physical or emotional resources.

Human logic and reasoning cannot reveal the motives hidden at this deeper level. This requires prophetic insight and discernment. As the events of 2016 begin to unfold it will be important to dig deeper and go beneath the surface presentation of complex social and spiritual issues. Much of culture and many within the Church have parked their thinking at a shallow place where overly simplistic, “Follow the Money”, forms of wisdom are used to provide insight. Ask the Spirit to take you to the deeper place of hidden motive. In that deeper place you will uncover the works of darkness and deception that hold people in a place of bondage and blindness. Money is simply a tool to execute a motive. God wants to reveal to you the hand that holds the tool.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Women iin Minstiry, Men in Jeopardy - We Need To Be Rescued!

The human mind responds to trauma in unique ways.  There is something called the Stockholm Syndrome where hostages will actually align themselves with the hostage taker, instead of the rescue team. When the Stockholm Syndrome is fully developed there have been cases where hostages have actually fought back against the incoming rescue team. The hostages came to believe an attempt at their rescue would put them in greater jeopardy than remaining a hostage. They believed their survival was dependent on maintaining their imprisoned status quo – even if that meant a rescue never came.

Something similar happens to those held hostage in spiritual bondage.  Years ago, I remember trying to explain to a couple that men and women were equally qualified and empowered in Christ to do the work of ministry.  This couple had been raised up in a church that taught a woman was not allowed to speak in a public meeting or hold a leadership role.  Today, this mindset only remains within a narrow portion of the Church, but at the time it was especially prevalent in the valley where I live.

When I proposed a way out of that limited way of thinking it was the wife, not the husband, who responded with the loudest objection. While the husband was the one who parroted his church leadership’s limited and restrained view of women, it was the wife who was the one held hostage to that thinking and who had spent her entire married life forming her identity around that lie. To have someone like me come and attempt to rescue her from that way of thinking, I became a threat putting her identity and belief system in jeopardy.  She gathered up her family and promptly left our church. In essence, she was living within the equivalent of a spiritual Stockholm Syndrome.

I remember when I was a Hostage Negotiator in the real world of police work. I saw and experienced the effects of the Stockholm Syndrome firsthand.  In a hostage negotiation our ally was time.  Over time we could wear down the hostage taker or set up a plan of rescue for those held captive. The same is true in spiritual matters. When you deal with people who are held hostage by systems of belief that diminish their identity or a healthy concept of God, give them time. In the waiting, you will discover God is already at work with His own plan of rescue.  Our plan of rescue will, many times, only try to prove our point. God’s plan of rescue will always have as its desired resolution the freedom of His children.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's Time for the Real Jesus

The Kingdom of God functions at a higher level of authority than a lesser authority defined by the political labels of conservative, liberal or independent.  These political definitions are used to describe a lower, earthly kingdom and its limited system of power and authority. It requires wisdom to tell the difference. Wisdom will eventually reveal the left wing and right wing are attached to the same bird.

The Wise Men of the Christmas story were people who came from a foreign land, a different religion and an unfamiliar social system.  They came to worship Jesus, the King of this higher Kingdom, because their wisdom allowed them to see a King inside a baby.  Because of that revelation they were willing to make the long journey from their familiar way of life to meet this new and unfamiliar King.

Our definition of Jesus must be powerful enough to draw the wise seekers of our day from their current way of life into His presence. As we become more a fearful and desperate culture we can begin wrapping our understanding of God and His Kingdom around religious definitions sourced by political agendas and a powerless representation of the Gospel instead of the higher rule of Christ and ministry sourced in the power of the Spirit. 

God is reforming His Church so He can reform the image of His Son we offer to the world. When this happens masses of people from cultures not currently honoring Him will come to us asking, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” When they meet the real Jesus they will bow down and worship Him.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Explosions of Hope

The only way forward in this time of terror and cultural fear is the pathway of hope. Some of you are so overwhelmed with emotion and dread at the current state of the world you feel as though you might explode. If you are going to explode – explode with words of hope.

This is not a blind hope. This is a hope that has wisely reviewed all our options and found them lacking as long term solutions. What we need in this moment in history are the sounds of hope detonating in the encampments of fear. An explosion of hope has the power to make a way when no way seems possible. It is time to light your fuse and invite your friends to the explosion!

The Curtain To Your Future Is About To Rise

In the third grade our class put on a play for our parents.  In the play we represented some of the Presidents of the United States and their most memorable speeches. I can still remember the feel and look of what it was like to attend a 1950’s vintage grade school.  San Tomas School had an auditorium that doubled as a cafeteria during the day and a stage for special gatherings that would occasionally take place in the evening.  On the night of the play, I was Abraham Lincoln. I made a top hat and fake beard from black poster paper. I was trying to not move too much to make sure the hat and fake beard didn’t fall off my head. As we waited, I could hear the sounds of the audience coming from beyond the closed curtain. 

It is nerve-wracking for a third grade kid to stand with his classmates behind a curtain waiting to be unveiled before an unseen audience.  We tried our best to suppress our nervous giggles. I remember our teacher lining us up so that our part would correspond with the progression of the program.  Once lined up we had to wait. We could hear our teacher, Mr. Raco, on the other side of the curtain welcoming the parents to the play. The waiting was a fearful experience.  I found myself rehearsing my lines and wondering if I could do it without a mistake.  The more I tried to rehearse the more nervous I became.

Then, just beyond the curtain, I heard the unmistakable sound of my father’s cough.  I have that same cough.  My wife, Jan, can tell where I am located in a large department store by simply waiting to hear that signature Elkins-man cough.

When I heard my father cough all my fear went away.  I knew I would be OK because my father was out there just beyond the dense barrier of the heavy forest green stage curtain.  My growing peace came because someone who loved me would be there to encourage me simply by his presence.  I no longer felt alone. My fear gave way to courage. When the curtain finally rose, I looked out and there were my parents. My dad was smiling the proud smile of a loving father. I didn’t miss a line that night. 

Today as I write this, I sense some of you need to know that God, your Father, is just beyond the veil that separates you from the future – a future you are not yet able to see. You are not sure you want the curtain to rise because some of the past opening night performances in your life have not gone well. This time something is different.  In the wait you are sensing a growing awareness that God’s presence is waiting for you in your future with something new and good. That awareness is the gift of hope. The hope of knowing He is there will give you the peace and courage you will need to play your part in something much larger and more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

Renewed Thinking for a New Year

One of the early indicators that revival and reformation are coming to the Church is when we begin to realize God is renewing the way we think. Each new season requires an adjustment in our thinking in order to move us forward into a fresh expression Kingdom life and revelation.

As we approach the threshold of 2016 the Lord is inviting us to take inventory of our thoughts to help align our thinking with His heart and Kingdom purpose.  Normally, I calendar a time at the end of each year to process these things with the Lord before the New Year comes, but this year an event took place that began that process a month early.

When the Paris terrorist attacks occurred our daughter, Anna, was completing a month-long teaching trip that began in Morocco and ended in Paris. She was part of a team helping people learn how to become storytellers. On the day of the attack, Anna had walked through the very neighborhood the terrorists first struck only hours before. When Anna and her team heard the first reports of the attack they gathered together in an apartment only a quarter of a mile from the café that experienced the first assault. The nation of France went into lock down.  The borders were closed. Anna was scheduled to fly home the next day. Her return home did not look like it would happen.

Jan and I knew nothing of what was taking place in Paris.  We received a cryptic text message from Anna saying, “I am OK.  We are all together. Safe.” I immediately went to a European news outlet to find out what was happening and watched the developing story as it continued to unfold.

When we first heard the news, Jan and I began to pray.  We also took our initial thoughts captive and submitted them to the good God who loved our daughter and in whose hands she was held.  Anna and her friends remained safe throughout the night and the next morning were able find a taxi driver willing to take them to the airport traveling along the deserted and fearful streets of Paris. They made it to the airport in time to board their return flight home.  Anna’s text message sent from the seat of her return flight brought us great relief.

The attacks in Paris caused me to pause and reorder my thinking for the coming year earlier than normal. I believe the Lord had a purpose in this earlier review of my thoughts. As a result, I came away with several points of reordered thinking I feel were not only words for me, but for the larger Church as we consider how to represent the Lord to our families, our nation and the larger global community in the coming year.

Thoughts to Reorder Our Thinking for the New Year

Taking the higher road of faith in seasons of intense cultural stress will always seem foolish to those on a descent into fear.

The higher road of Kingdom thinking is always up – up and above our current understanding of reality. The road of descent into despair and over-reaction is an easier road to take because it is navigated downward by human emotion and logic without the uplifting effect of the Spirit’s wisdom.  The higher road will require faith to navigate because it is paved with things not yet seen with the natural eye. Those who are descending may call you a fool for following this higher path of faith, but in the end its destination will be your testimony of God’s faithfulness.

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

An image of goodness has the power to displace an image of sorrow.

Today, take a break and turn from the images of sorrow and the overwhelming struggles taking place in culture. I had to do this with the repeated images of horror I was seeing from Paris. Reset you sight to heaven where you now sit with Christ at the right hand of the Father.  This is your current reality and God’s preferred future for each broken person and every painful situation you will encounter in the coming year.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

Forgiveness is the highest form of spiritual warfare.

Jesus was sent to set the captives free.  He died and rose again to offer all of humanity the gift of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the starting point of all He does in our lives. Without forgiveness a new beginning is not possible.

Every new thing God does in our lives can trace its beginning back to an original work of forgiveness.  As you consider the possibilities of 2016 make sure you have allowed that work of forgiveness to have its way in each of your relationships. This will be a fight, but well worth the effort. You will know you have forgiven when you no longer desire to punish the offenders in your life.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

A captive thought can no longer move with unrestrained freedom.

Every thought we entertain requires the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A thought not submitted to His Lordship will represent another kingdom and its failed disposition for the affairs of life.  Jan and I had to repeatedly take our thoughts captive because our distance from Paris did not allow us to help our daughter in any tangible way.  In these moments of disconnect it is easy to feel helpless and grow desperate.

Do not allow any thought to linger without requiring its submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As this process of Lordship deepens in your life you will begin to evaluate your thoughts with the mind of Christ. This renewed thinking will bring freedom and peace.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Hope is always present in each and every circumstance of life.

The fear currently invading the minds of our culture wants to invade the thinking of the Church. Fear comes when hope is absent. Our hope is not anchored in political resolutions or the temporary alignment of earthly kingdoms.  Our hope is secure in heaven beyond the influence of earthly matters.  Our faith is a tether to that anchor.  Each time we choose faith in response to fear we will feel the tug on that line reminding us we are not flailing about in life unattached to something eternal. We are always secure in Christ no matter what takes place in this life.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

Our minds are being filled with an increasing display of images fueled by despair and grief.  I saw a lot of those images coming from Paris as I waited and prayed for my daughter to return home.  In that personal drama, I discovered once again the power of prayer, worship and words of hope. These spiritual disciplines have the ability to transform how we see the events of this life and give up hope in times of uncertainty. 

The power of reordered thinking allows us to see this life from heaven’s perspective. That is the perspective of reformation and revival. God has a distinct impact planned for our lives to make in the coming year. That impact will be traced back to how we allowed ourselves to think.

Our cooperation with the Spirit as a renewed thinker will yield supernatural results in 2016. Get ready! The goodness of God is coming in force to displace the works of darkness. The reality of this goodness requires a renewed mind to believe in its possibility.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Normalcy Bias

When people experience disaster or trauma unprepared and suffer a dire consequence, many times that mindset was created by something called Normalcy Bias. People who experience this bias believe that because something has never happened to them it will never happen.  They live in the illusion of their bias and once a disaster or traumatic event takes place they face the dilemma unprepared. As you trace the history of people who have come under the influence of Normalcy Bias you will see they failed to interpret the warning signs because of an overly optimistic view of life.  This bias is a form of optimism masquerading as faith. In the end, people living under this bias will put themselves and their loved ones in a greater place of jeopardy.

When Paul was trying to help Timothy deal with the pressures of his life and ministry he told Timothy, “be prepared in season and out of season”. He went on to say, “keep your head in all situations”. Paul’s instruction to Timothy resembles what a Disaster Preparedness instructor would say to a group of people wanting to learn how to deal with disaster.

We are living in a time of significant cultural change and increasing threat levels.  In these times, if we are not spiritually prepared, we can become like a person who naively hides under a small desk during an active shooter incident hoping bad things will pass them by. We can deny the realities of life, both in the Spirit and in the natural realm, and allow our bias to determine our preparation. Instead of victors we become victims.

Today, I hear an appeal from the Spirit for the Church to come back and rediscover the basics our faith. These basics are things like the truth of scripture, fellowship, confession and repentance and choosing to live a life of transparency. In times of high spiritual stress and rapid cultural change those who remain close to the basics of their faith have a greater chance of walking out alive. These basics become our survival skills when nothing is making sense - when a marriage fails or a dream becomes a living nightmare. In these times our only bias should be a bias toward the goodness of God in all seasons of life. The basics of faith and a belief in a good God will keep you anchored to what is sure and safe in a world where nothing seems sure or safe anymore.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Angst You Are Feeling

Some of you woke up this morning with an unexpected feeling of angst. What you are sensing is what the broader culture is experiencing each and every day.  Angst is permeating our world. God is using this angst as an invitation to make a shift in your thinking to become an agent of change in your family, city and nation. God has allowed you to feel the pain of others for a greater Kingdom purpose.

What you are sensing is a tremendous spiritual battle currently being waged in our culture. This battlefield is not fought with natural weapons, strategy or tactics. Attempting to use natural borders and political rhetoric to define this struggle is an illusion. When we attempt to fight a spiritual battle with the same logic used to fight natural battles defined by the limits and interests of natural, horizontal borders, we end up expending our limited energy and resources fighting in the wrong direction advancing our cause toward the wrong "enemy".

This is a different kind of warfare waged between varying levels of spiritual authority in the heavens. This is why Paul told us to fix our eyes on the things above and to draw our weapons from the unnatural arsenal of heaven. The battle lines of this spiritual war are vertically defined - within the varying levels of authority in the heavenly realm - not horizontally drawn between nations and people groups.

The battle being waged is one whose border will be defined by our renewed thinking. The angst you are feeling is a battle being fought over mindsets. God is reforming and reviving the mind of His Church in preparation for what He has planned. This angst is being used by God to get your attention to refocus your efforts on a different battle being fought on a different plane. The troops in this battle are armed with hope, faith and love. Against these weapons no army of spiritual darkness can stand.

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's Time! Step Forward - Expect a Miracle

It's time to stop hesitating. You have paused in a place of weakness waiting to become strong before you continue to move forward in obedience. When this journey began, God did not send you out because you were strong. He is sent you out knowing it would be in your weakest place where He would do His greatest work. This hasn't taken Him by surprise. It is part of His plan. You would not need God to show up if what He is asking of you could be done in your own strength, will and intellect.

There are good people in the Church-culture who live with the illusion that we should spend our time discovering and developing our strengths. This research seems logical, but it is not truth. This illusion was adopted because people succumbed to a natural model of doing church. Scripture tells us something different - your weak areas carry the greatest potential for Kingdom advancement, not your strengths.

Never let your weakness stop you from moving forward in your calling. Like Paul, celebrate your weaknesses because when you recognize them God will be able to begin doing something profound. A weakness yielded to the healing touch of God carries with it the greatest potential for a display of His power. When you are empty and have nothing left to offer, God has promised to come and fill your weak place with a display of His presence. This is where your life will have the greatest impact. Embrace it and begin to move forward.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Significant Decision

Yesterday, I sensed a nudge from the Lord to post a short video reminder encouraging people to follow the peace of God into this season of increasing cultural uncertainty. Later in the day, someone reminded me that my friends at Elijah List had published an excellent word from Bobby Connor, a trusted prophetic voice, titled, "Peace or Panic - The Choice is Yours!". God is reminding His people to not allow fear to darken the attitude of our heart or pollute our response to life. The choice is ours to make.

In order to be in the center of God's will in this moment of human history, each of us will need to make the daily choice to step into the peace of God. This choice will violate your emotions and the opinions other people have about how to live in the midst of uncertainty.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and you have succumbed to the spirit of fear, make an exchange. Give God your fear and He will be faithful to give you His peace. This will be the greatest gift you will receive in this holiday season and the greatest contribution you will make during the conversation that will take place tomorrow around the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Moving Beyond Politically Correct Religous Language

Each segment of the Church has the potential to succumb to a version of politically correct language. This is not the same kind of vocabulary as the politically correct language used in the realm of politics, but it is sourced from the same spirit and manifested in the arena of faith. This politically correct language perpetuates the status quo of religious systems through restricting forms of communication.  It is a language of control. Unless challenged it can hold an individual or a group back from experiencing the full measure of their destiny.

When God begins to move in new ways new language is required to define what is taking place. This language will invite its members out of the ruts of a shared history to experience something new their current experience cannot provide. For those in control of the visible power structures this new language can be seen as a threat and must be controlled by a demand for alignment with the party line. If that alignment does not take place fearful leadership may attempt to silence the voice of reformation by removing its platform to speak. At this point change can only come from the outside instead of being internal and organic.

Breaking free from this politically correct group-speak requires someone courageous enough to speak what the Spirit is saying no matter the cost to their credibility or jeopardy to a position they hold within a particular circle of fellowship or organization. These are voices like David who was rejected by Saul or John who cried out from the wilderness.

God is raising courageous voices within our families, churches and denominations. God has planted these courageous ones in our circles of fellowship to challenge the fear-based controlling filters we have erected as barriers to change. These new voices will invite people to listen to the sounds of a Kingdom conversation that will declare something new instead of orbiting around and repeating the familiar party line of history that has stunted their growth and forward progress.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A New Garment for a New Season

A young woman approached me on Sunday morning just before I was to preach at The Shepherd's Way in Ashland, Oregon. She said she saw an image of a person walking into the presence of the Lord. As this person entered the Presence they shed an old garment they had been wearing for a long time.  They now stood before the Lord naked and unclothed in a moment of transition.  As this young woman shared what she was seeing the Lord continued developing the image in my mind.  I saw the person step forward from a place of naked vulnerability and put on a new garment as they continued to step forward into a new season.

Some of you are about to shed the old garment of what was to put on the new garment of what will be.  You are removing something that served a purpose, but now must be dropped on the floor of your past in order to move forward. The Lord is about to clothe you in a new garment of fresh anointing.

In the coming weeks some of you will become the person in the image.  Don't fear the moment of naked vulnerability before the Lord when the old falls away.  This is part of your transformation.  What you are about to be clothed with will far exceed your imagination and expectation.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Coming Revival of Peace

The real power of terror is its ability to cause an entire populace to live and respond to life in fear – always and everywhere. The greatest weapon in the arsenal of terror is the fear it produces in the minds of people.  God is about to turn this fear into a seedbed for revival, but first the Church must come to grips with her own fear.

While many people gather weapons and attempt to harden natural borders these efforts will not and cannot fully stem the tide of terror. Terror is an enemy without borders. The most significant battle we will engage takes place in our minds where we are being offered an opportunity to harden the borders of our thinking against the invasion of fear. Defining these mental borders provides our minds with the protected space needed to have our thought process renewed to begin thinking like Jesus.

Today, you can do several things to position your heart and mind for this coming revival of God’s peace.  Turn off your television and stop listening to the endless speculation and posturing of your favorite news outlet. Return to the Word and read its pages that are filled with a hope and a future God has created and promised. Direct your daily conversations toward a redemptive end instead of allowing your words to be highjacked by the agenda of fear.

These three simple acts will provide your mind with the space it needs to recalibrate your thinking to align with the mind of Christ. The creation of this space will allow God’s peace to displace the invaders of worry, doubt and fear. As you are being recalibrated you will begin to hear words of hope and destiny.  Hearing and believing these words will be your greatest act of spiritual warfare against the forces of terror.  With a renewed mind you will then be able stand in opposition to what the spirit of terror wants you to believe can only come at the end of a gun barrel or by the election of your favorite candidate. God has another plan and He is inviting you to believe it is possible.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Confront the Bully

Some of you feel like you are being pushed forward in time without your permission. This rude progression of time is like a schoolyard bully who has come up behind you pushing and shoving you forward. At some point you will need to turn around and confront the bully. The lesser authority of time being used by this bullying presence will have to yield to the eternity you carry in your heart.

Eternity has authority over every aspect of time when faith is expressed. Time and all that transpires within its realm does not have an authority greater than the One who created it. On earth as it is in heaven is not a religious mantra. This is the order of revelation in God’s Kingdom.  

God wants to release an invasion of eternity upon the timeline of your life bringing with it supernatural resolution and miraculous intervention. This is the alternate reality offered to those who confront the bully of time and follow Jesus – the One who existed in eternity before the creation of time.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Living Between Realities

It is very difficult to talk with people whose sheltered life has left them with an insulated view of reality. Distance from the sight, sound and smell of horrific violence can produce an unrealistic worldview.

Years ago, when I was a police officer, I had several people try to kill me and I was forced to respond within the bounds of my training and the law in order to survive and return home to Jan each night. Before I was a police officer, I had lived the insulated man-boy life of girls, sports and my latest car project. When I became a police officer and began to see the horror of death first hand, something changed in me. The manifestation of evil took my breath away and left me stunned with the realization that my life would never be the same again – ever. My wall of insulation had been dismantled.

Some of the current social dialogue is being framed by good people who have never been threatened beyond a push and shove match in a schoolyard. In many ways, I am glad they still live in such innocence, but it is very naive. There is real evil in our world choosing to manifest itself in grossly dark ways.  The evil of terror is its ability to visit our sacred space of friends and family without notice. The impact of this kind of evil is not limited to the shedding of innocent blood at the crime scene, but the bondage of fear it uses to immobilize normal life in the larger culture.

Once, I was lectured by a young man who had boiled down his response to evil to the overly simplistic response of “Turn the other cheek.” I did not want to respond to him in a negative way, but simply made an observation. I said, “I notice you have two eyes and two hands.” The young man looked back at me in confusion and said, “Yes?” I told him the discourse of Jesus he was quoting about turning the other cheek is the same discourse where He said if your eye views something offensive to pluck it out and if your hand does something wrong cut it off. I observed, “I notice you have two eyes and two hands.” I went on to share that Jesus might have been saying something more to His disciples than just an instruction to roll over and let hell have its evil way. When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off Malchus’ ear. Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into its sheath.  He didn’t tell Peter to get rid of his sword. A first read of anything, scripture included, it not always the most accurate.

Today, be careful about issuing an overly simplistic response to any side of the complex issues we are facing in our culture.  Be careful that you don’t reduce your interpretation of reality down to a single option.  Truth is many times manifest between conflicting realities.  These realities can provide valid arguments for their existence from each side of an issue. The space between these conflicting realities is where we need the wisdom of God to craft a wise response.  Ask for God's wisdom. He promises to give it liberally to those who ask.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Rise of a New Apostlic Gift

The terrorist attacks in Paris have given us a glimpse into a new and unfamiliar future. As our collective head turns looking for direction many solutions are being offered. Much of what is coming forth are solutions sourced in historic remedies that were used in the past, but will not be able to stem the tide of the much larger hydra-headed issues facing our world.

In the last several decades, many in the Church have turned to cultural anthropologists and historians for direction.  While their insight is interesting, they can only offer insight from history – from the known data of the past.  They offer a way forward based only on the predictable and limited database of history.

Historic data has a problem – it lacks the prophetic insight of fresh revelation. Prophecy by its very nature reveals what is not yet known. We are in one of those moments where we need revelation. We are engaging battles without traditional frontiers. Terrorists are not fighting from recognized battlefronts that line the physical geography of a nation.  They can kill in a café or a concert hall. Hunger is no longer “over there”, but down the street behind the façade of what appears to be Middle America. Lives are being sexually trafficked beyond the glitz of Vegas in the small towns once poetically painted by the brush of Norman Rockwell.

In this confusing landscape of a rapidly changing and frontier-less world culture, a new apostolic gift is rising.  This gift will not seek solutions by first going to the records of history or to available research data to find its answer.  These new apostles will first listen to what the Spirit is saying. This will be their first action step. From a place of revelation they will craft a way forward.

What is happening is part of a much larger reformation taking within the Church.  This reformation will require a departure from our dependence on the predictable patterns of history to find a way forward. As this takes place, these new apostles will be revealed to us when they approach what appears to be an impenetrable cultural frontier and are able to step through its restrictive barrier into a previously undiscovered future our known history was not able to predict.