Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Nature of a Spirit-Empowered Upgrade

There are times in our lives when an upgrade from God will break apart our status quo and require that we redesign our lives to carry a new level of empowerment. These seasons of fracture are not the end. They are the beginning of something new.

Last weekend, I was in Salem, Oregon speaking.  Passing through the hotel lobby I picked up a  copy of the USA Today newspaper and read an article about the new and redesigned 2020 Chevrolet Corvette. The engine in the prototype is so powerful it is compromising the chassis of the vehicle creating structural distortion of the aluminum frame. The problem stems from the new engine. The 8-cylinder engine develops between 900 to 1,000 horsepower. The old chassis could not carry the increased power of the new engine. Chevrolet had to take the Corvette back to the drawing board to create a new chassis structure to house the new engine.

There are times when the structure of our lives and our current Kingdom assignment might breakdown under the influence of a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. When the Spirit begins to move, and what is known and familiar to us begins to crack and fall apart don't despair. Instead, begin to worship because only in worship will you be able to see what God is doing. You are being prepared for a new adventure with the Holy Spirit that requires a new level of power and anointing. This is the nature of a spiritual upgrade. 

A new chassis for a new season is being developed for your life. As you yield to the work of God’s Spirit in both your character and your calling, you will be ready to carry a new level of empowerment. When this upgrade is finished, under God’s power, nothing will be able to stand in your way. Your past will be left in the smoke of the burning tires of your faith as you accelerate into the future.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sponsored Content

In social media, there is something called “sponsored content”. Sponsored content is advertisement space a person or business purchases to push a product or a video repeatedly before a select audience. It is an attraction device. I have come to not like sponsored content because of the clutter it creates. It clutters my social media feed with clickbait ads that make me not trust the product being offered. At times these ads can be just an innocent attempt to honestly push a product, but for the most part, the abundance and repetition of this form of advertising are annoying. 

On my Yahoo news feed, the word “sponsored” appears in small print just below the larger bold title and accompanying photograph. We can miss the sponsored ad announcement if we are not looking. The title and the image catch our attention and we dive in unaware. Most of these flashy titles are nothing more than a multipage “ad” that never gets to the point. As you click page after page you rarely get to the core of the promised content – you simply subject yourself to more ads for a wide variety of products, which was the goal of the sponsored content in the first place. The initial ad was crafted based on data created about you and your buying habits and past activity on the platform.

As it is with clever advertising so it is with life. We need to be able to discern the difference between something legit and something sponsored that uses our relationship to promote an agenda or a way of thinking. 

Who or what is framing your spiritual worldview and your response to life? If it's not the Scripture, the Spirit and a community of faith you are in trouble because someone or something else has created a form of spiritual clickbait that is drawing you into a pre-packaged worldview and response to life. It is subtle and many times it remains unnoticed until we find our selves in a place of jeopardy.

You are a consumer, both spiritually and commercially. The enemy of your soul knows how you live your life and even some things you think he could not know. He is prowling about looking for those places in our lives where a lack of wisdom and discernment has created a portal of spiritual naivety.  He has prepared just the right clickbait to draw you into a subtle presentation of a lie that will ring with enough truth that you will feel OK clicking its first attraction and step deeper and deeper into a place of well-crafted deception.  

There is a solution to cleaning up the newsfeed of your life. Ask God for help. He will be faithful to help you navigate through al the clutter. God's wisdom and discernment will let you know when you are being offered sponsored content.


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Living Open and Free


Normally, when I travel to speak somewhere my host will reserve a room fo me in a comfortable hotel. I really appreciate that consideration. This trip is no exception. The beautiful hotel and its wonderful amenities allow me to be fresh and rested during my visit. 

After driving several hours to get to my destination, I finally arrived at the hotel and checked into my room. The first thing I do when I enter a new hotel room is to pray over the room and the hotel environment. As soon as my prayer ended, I went to the sink to get a drink of water. I grabbed a drinking glass and put it under the faucet and turned on the water. I held the glass under the water flow for several moments and wondered why my hand was getting wet and the glass was not filling. Then I realized my mistake. The glass was covered by a plastic security film. I laughed, took off the cover and drank a couple of glasses of refreshing water and began to unpack my luggage.

After the incident with the glass of water, I began to reflect on how our minds can be like that thin layer of plastic wrap. Our unrenewed thinking can prohibit the arrival of the good things God wants us to receive. We can experience a wounding in a relationship and try to cover the pain with a vow to never again let anyone have access to our hearts. We can allow a religious spirit of control to cover our mind and prevent us from entertaining a new aspect of God or we can let other people determine what comes into our minds and continue to be spoon-fed the predetermined agenda and will of another person or group. No matter what the covering might be when God attempts to pour a new measure of His presence and wisdom into our life that much-needed revelation can pour out into the sink of our lives if we are not an open and willing receptacle. 

Today, examine your life to see if it resembles the covered glass in the photo. God wants to renew our minds. The wrappers of fear, doubt and unbelief must be removed before we can be filled with freedom. Don't fear this openness to God. His only plan is to pour a refreshing drink of His presence into your life. He wants to fill you to a new and unimaginable capacity. 

Take off the plastic wrapping and God's love will begin to pour into your life. The infilling of His love will be evidence that your freedom has arrived. 





Friday, March 15, 2019

Rebranding Our Faith

Back in the 1980s, I remember reading some facts about Christian television. The profiled demographic of the average watcher was a female who lived in the South and was in her mid 50’s. While people from a differing demographic did watch Christian television, the pool of support the broadcasters drew from came primarily from an aging demographic of like-minded people. The perimeter of their ministry did not have sufficient access points to draw in those people who would channel surf past their sometimes garish and outdated presentations. Like Christian television or any outreach of the Church, we need to be willing to rebrand our image as the Spirit leads so that we can say, as Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some” (I Corinthians 9:22). 

A business or ministry must occasionally rebrand itself if it is to remain relevant to a customer base or to the unredeemed culture it desires to reach. Rebranding is a process that creates a new look and feel for something that is no longer working at its full potential. The goal of rebranding is to influence a person's perception of a product or service. In matters of faith,  it helps people who are pursuing an encounter with God to not be hindered in that pursuit by an outdated delivery system. When we work with God in this process we will recreate our image to bring us up to date and relevant to the needs of the people we desire to reach.

A spiritually healthy rebranding will never compromise the essentials of our faith or the integrity of our message in an attempt to gain a new image or expand our audience base. Rebranding is simply about adapting and upgrading the vehicle that transports our message. It’s not about changing the core content of the message. 

It is too easy to shut the door to something new, untested and maybe even a bit uncomfortable. We can assume our limited demographic is all we are called to reach when God has another plan.

Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Moving the content of our message from Jerusalem to the remotest parts of the earth will require that we be willing to rebrand the vehicle of our message for each new leg of the journey. 


Thursday, March 14, 2019

A Place Beyond

We have a lot of interesting comments, quips, and quotes that we toss around in the community of faith. Some of these are well-meaning, but not always fully true.  We can comment, quip and quote ourselves into strange corners if we take everything we hear or read at face value without seeing it through the broader lens of Scripture and history.

John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer.” While that is an admirable-sounding comment and we should all pray more, it is thankfully not accurate. Groups of faithful intercessors have been created and labored under the burden of that misconception. Paul said in Ephesians 3:20, 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.” Some of the greatest works God does are not answers to our prayers but a merciful expression of His heart in a place beyond the content of our most ardent prayers - beyond what we “might ask or think."

Another famous phrase tossed around is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Again, Paul helps us see a deeper spiritual reality. In describing the challenges he experienced in Asia, Paul said, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1: 8-9)

This “beyond our ability to endure” seems to be the place where miracles of deliverance and supernatural intervention have appeared throughout the history of the Church. The most profound and awe-inspiring things God does will exceed our ability to imagine or produce. This is the resurrection component of our faith. God raises people and situations that look dead and abandoned and gives them new life and another chance.

I don’t write this to rag on anyone. I have been guilty of parroting half-truths in my own ignorance and I'm sure it will happen again somewhere in the future. God is larger than our quips, comments, and familiar quotes. Because He is bigger than we can imagine we need to be willing to challenge and adjust the smallness of our current revelation.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Thunder of God's Truth is Coming

A great confusion of the enemy and his message is beginning to take place. In the coming days, bizarre and insane-sounding agendas will be exposed and dismantled in the public square. This confusion will take place at a deeper level where the influence of a deluding spirit has worked undetected for generations. 

This confusion will begin to unravel the bonds of deception present within every worldview, no matter how strong and entrenched those worldviews may appear. God is no respecter of persons or agendas, nor does He have favorites. He unravels all forms of deception because He loves all people.

This is a moment in our history similar to the time when Israel felt abandoned by God because the Ark was no longer in their camp. They mourned its absence. In the absence of God’s presence, they began to worship false gods.

Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord” (I Samuel 7: 3-4).

The nation of Israel gathered at Mizpah to fast and confess their sins. The Philistines heard about the gathering and planned an assault. Mobilizing their army, they advanced on the Israelites. Hearing the Philistines were coming to do battle, the people became afraid. Samuel told the Israelites to continue praying to the Lord as he offered a sacrifice.

Right when it seemed all hope was lost and fear was mounting, the Lord intervened.

Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way” (I Samuel 7:10-11).
The Lord did not confuse the Philistines. It was the manifestation of His presence as a mighty thunder from Heaven that created the confusion.  Truth struck at the heart of the Philistine battle plan and dismantled its strategy. It was the deafening sound of truth carried by God's voice that created the confusion. The enemy did not know what to do when their plan of attack began to fall apart. The confusion allowed Israel to pursue and defeat a powerful foe.
We are living in a similar time. The Church has been called to live a life of absolute loyalty and reverence to God, a life motivated by obedience and worship. Anything less will be a compromise with evil. 
The people held captive by deception are not our enemy. This is an important distinction to make because the enemy wants us to see the faces of those held captive under a spirit of deception as our enemy, not the deceiver himself or the spirits who do his bidding. This misstep will keep us battling in a lesser realm of conflict where no victory is possible. 
It is critical once the confusion begins to take place that we make sure we are moving and speaking under the authority of love, not retribution, payback or succumbing to a lynch mob mentality. Some of those who are under the influence of an evil agenda will wake up when the confusion begins and cry out to God for help.
In that time of confusion, those who minister under a mandate from Heaven will speak the truth in love, not parrot a political party line or allow their voice to be molded by fear-based conversations around the latest hot-button cultural issue. If we are not speaking the truth in love, we need to stop what we are doing and disengage our voice from the cultural conversation. To continue on with an agenda other than the sound of love, we will end up doing more harm than good, all in the name of God.
As a follower of Jesus Christ we are not left, right or center on the political spectrum. We are from above. Our citizenship is in Heaven and so is the source of our message. Our passport to walk the Earth in the name of God has been issued from above – above petty and demeaning arguments, mocking statements and a never-ending series of gotcha pictures or comments taken out of context to prove our point. We are diplomats of another Kingdom. The solutions we bring to the table are not yet on the table. They will arrive in this realm as Kingdom solutions to complex issues that only love can solve. 

Today, reaffirm your spiritual passport. Reconfirm your identity and your place of ultimate allegiance. A message from above will not align with the demands of a religious or political spirit. Every alignment must be examined by love and this love will cause us to step away from assumption. We may be called to go and stand in places of opposition where our loyalty to a party line might be questioned. Speaking the truth in love is dangerous. It was so dangerous it got Jesus killed and most of His early followers. This happened while the Church was in its purest form and living in very corrupt times. 

The sound of God’s thunderous truth is coming. The enemy is about to enter a state of confusion because the truth of God will come and confuse his plan for our nation. Prepare your heart and God will prepare the way.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Your Life Will Become a Sign and a Wonder

I took the attached photo of an empty signpost while on a walk through the small town where Jan and I live. It looks like city workers planted the signpost in the ground with plans to attach a sign in the near future. After I walked past the bare signpost, I sensed a nudge from the Spirit to go back and capture its image knowing the Lord had something to say at a later date. Today is that later date.

Some of you have been planted in places, relationships and seasons of life you did not expect or see coming. At this time in your life, you look and feel like the solitary signpost in the photograph. You have a place, but not a message. A sign detailing why you have been put in this position is coming. The Lord is about to attach an explanatory sign to your life. Like the base of a signpost that needs time to become secure enough to support the weight of a sign, so has it been with you. God has been firming and seasoning your life in this place getting you ready to support the weight of your sign’s message once the Lord attaches the sign to your life.

When the Lord finally places His sign on your life it will all make sense – the reason for your placement, the why of this season of waiting, and the content of the message you will carry into the future. Your life will become a sign to others that God has been at work in your life all along even as people passed by and thought it odd that your life resembled a signpost without a sign. The sign upon your life will cause the doubters to wonder how it all happened. For the ones who believed in you and never gave up, your life will become yet another sign to celebrate the goodness and the faithfulness of God.



Monday, March 11, 2019

Warmth - The Environment of Success

I met a friend for breakfast at one of those establishments where the waitress calls everyone “honey” and the food is down home. The smells coming from the kitchen and the overall ambiance of the place let me know that a plate of biscuits and gravy was somewhere in my near future.

When the meal finally came it looked great. I went to adjust my plate and it felt cold to the touch. The food had been sucking up the coldness from the plate and what looked like a killer breakfast was growing more and more lukewarm with each passing minute – not something that helps gravy remain appetizing.

In college, I worked as a fry cook at the original Elmer’s restaurant in Portland, Oregon. In fact, Walt Elmer the founder of the restaurant chain hired me on the first day of school when I stopped by for breakfast and he offered me a job as I paid my bill. The rule at Elmer’s was to always serve a customer’s meal on a warm plate. This allowed the food to retain its heat to remain appealing and tasty.

The cold plate metaphor applies to a business, a church and our personality. We can have a great product, a unique place of fellowship or a life filled with valuable experiences to share with others, but if we serve these offerings with a cold demeanor it really doesn’t matter how great the product, the fellowship or the experience we have to offer, we probably won’t get repeat business. 

Rarely, will someone be honest enough to let us know the first time around that the presentation of what we offered was less than appealing. This speaks not only to our presentation it also applies to the overall environment where we do business and the attitude of those we work alongside in the execution of our shared mission. Everything in life must be evaluated to make sure that all the parts are working together to create a warm presentation that lets people know we have anticipated their needs. This is the heart of a servant. It is also the heart of the Father.

That day in the diner was an isolated event. I let them know about the problem. I am guessing the cook got to the kitchen late that morning and didn’t turn the grill on early enough to heat his workspace. In his rush, my plate was not up to a proper temperature for serving food. I have gone back to that restaurant many times after that one morning and the plates have always been warm and the food outstanding. They will always have my business because not only do they serve great food, but everything is warm from the waitress who calls me honey to the great food served on a warmed plate. They will also have my return business because they are willing to listen to their customer's input. 



Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Fresh Eyes of Faith

There are times when we ask God for a turnaround that He will simply spin us around 360 degrees and have us facing in the same direction. When God does this don’t get angry or give up. You are being given another chance to see what you did not see before the turnaround took place. The way forward you seek will be discovered when you look at your circumstance with the fresh eyes of faith. That is your turnaround.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Assigning Value To Prophetic Words

The majority of prophetic words are not specific to individuals or groups. Predictive words or words that are spoken to individuals with great detail and accuracy are surely in the mix, but they are rare. In the last 40 years, I have delivered these specific words with Spirit-directed revelation and accuracy, but to think this is a summit to pursue in prophetic ministry can put us on a slippery slope toward compromise, thinking we have to always produce this kind of prophetic ministry. This is especially dangerous when we develop an audience who demand this content each time we open our mouth or sit behind a keyboard. Distinct prophetic words are not the badge of a higher anointing of prophetic ministry, they are simply part of it.

Paul addressed prophecy in I Corinthians 14:3 and said it “strengthens others, encourages them and comforts them.” Prophecy appeals by design to a larger group of people just as the written Scripture when it is taught to people all around the world in different cultures every Sunday. Scripture is preached 2,000 years removed from its original audience and context yet it carries the same anointing today as the day it was first delivered. Dismissing a generic-sounding word of prophecy as something less makes as much sense as saying the book of Ephesians only applies to those who attended a church meeting in Ephesus during the first century and heard the original draft of Paul's epistle read for the first time.

Be slow to criticize or categorize what appears to be a generic word of prophecy as something less when compared to a specific word. Not much of New Covenant prophecy is specific. The majority is meant to encourage, exhort and comfort people. Some of the people who will come in contact with the words you prophesy will never meet you in this life. They will have read or heard something you released and their life will be impacted by the strength, comfort, and encouragement your words provided. 







Friday, March 8, 2019

The Prize of Pruning

Everything of significance that Jan and I are doing today grew from a place of pruning. In some cases, the pruning was severe and unwelcomed. At the start of the pruning process, the pain was so intense we wanted to avoid it at all costs, but we chose to remain. Today, those pruned places have brought forth the prized fruit of a lifetime of discipleship that we have come to cherish. 



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Creating Healthy Spiritual Environments

My teaching is not limited to public gatherings like a Sunday morning church service or a conference setting. Many times I am offered an itinerary where I am able to speak with the primary leadership team of a church or business. This is where I believe deeper traction and impact can take place because if I can influence leaders, I will be able to influence the group they serve.

This week, I had the opportunity to speak with the leadership team of a great church and several entrepreneurs from the business community who are part of their ministry. I was talking to them about the spiritual environment we create in a church or business by the quality of life we choose to live. Our private life will eventually have a public influence on the group we serve or the product we create.

I thought my talking points might be helpful. Here are the four points from my notes:

1. God prunes our lives and our ministries to define and in some cases, redefine our vision and life-mission. Pruning personnel or resources is never a joyful experience, but it is a critical step in our development. Pruning creates clarity and increased momentum.

2. Cutting corners in personal purity and excellence will change our spiritual shape in a negative way both individually and corporately. Compromise is an enemy of faith. Treat it like an unwelcome intruder.

3. Every upgrade in our mission, both personally and corporately, will require that something is left behind if we are going to move forward under the power of the Spirit. 

4. Upgrades do not upgrade our calling or our identity. Upgrades reposition us to see what we could not see about our life and calling before the upgrade took place.




Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Censored Voices

What would happen if all the communication platforms available to the Church were withdrawn? What if social media became a censored police state and media outlets no longer allowed people of faith to share their point of view? I have asked myself those “what if” questions. I think I have an answer. God would begin to move supernaturally on our behalf releasing revelation and manifestations of the Spirit we thought were only possible while those platforms were still available. God would be faithful to move the sound of our voice past those restrictions to a place of greater impact.

In our current context, some have come think we need the same platforms as the world in order for our message to be heard. Throughout biblical history, the only platform God needed to accomplish His will was an open and available heart, not a platform offered by the controlling political or religious spirit. We should not fear censorship neither should we give up and allow it to take place without a challenge. It is not the end of the road should it ever take place. It might actually be setting us up to experience a greater move of God than we first imagined.



Riding the Landslides of Life

A massive landslide took place last week on the Oregon coast. The landslide is almost a mile in length. It has displaced the coast highway downslope toward the ocean turning the highway into an impassible mass of crumbled asphalt and dirt. It looks like the remnants of a catastrophic earthquake. 

The strange thing about this landslide is the fact that it is still moving. Every hour it slides farther toward the ocean. The landslide was moving at two feet an hour during one 24-hour period. The destroyed roadway has cut off cities along the coast and will create a significant impact on the local economy and summer tourism.

What struck me was the fact that the landslide is still active and moving. These catastrophic events are not static. They can seem alive. So it is with the catastrophic events in our lives. When a loved one dies or divorce takes place or a friend betrays us these experiences can set off an emotional landslide. The landslides created by these broken relationships can come without warning and set in motion a slab of painful debris that keeps moving for many years.

As I looked at a picture of the devastation along the Oregon coast, I thought of some of you who are riding atop an emotional landslide. You are wondering if it will ever stop. Your life seems so uncertain and out of control. Something larger and more beautiful than the pain of this displacement is in play. What was planned for your destruction will be reversed. 

This painful movement will eventually come to an end and that will be your signal that the construction of a new roadway into your future is beginning. God has plans to remove the debris from your past and create a solid roadway on more stable ground. When He is done, you will be able to travel into the next season of your life with freedom, confidence, and security.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Loving Touch

I'm guessing I kiss or hug Jan at least 10 times a day. Our love involves a continuous intimate physical encounter. Jesus did not come as a vaporous spirit. He came to incarnate a physical representation of God's love. Don't settle for a stale and unfeeling form of love. Tomorrow may never come. Today, touch the ones you love. Express to them what you feel and do it with a touch. A  loving touch will continue to be felt long after you are gone.

The Vanishing Remnants of a Painful Season

I walked out into our front yard and saw the remnant of a major snowstorm that hit our area last week. The storm was so severe and impacting that the governor of Oregon declared parts of western Oregon a disaster area. Tens of thousands of people were left without power. Many still have no electricity. Roads were closed because of downed trees and power lines. For a time, Interstate 5, the major north-south freeway connecting the west coast was shut down. It was a mess. As I stood over the last sliver of evidence from that storm in bright warmth of a spring day, it looked small, insignificant and melting. Later in the day, it was completely gone. 

A storm of a relationship or an exhausting season of life can be like the snowstorm. It was not planned and struck your life leaving devastation in its wake.  The remains of the trauma are still around even though the initial storm has passed. The Lord wants to remind you that like the sliver of snow on my front lawn, under the power and warmth of God’s presence even the remnants of what was such a devastating experience will soon be gone.

The physical evidence of your painful season will become only a memory if God is allowed to lead you out of the destructive aftermath. You might be standing knee deep in the snow of a personal storm. You are cold and it feels like the power to sustain your life has been cut off. You need to know this storm was a season, not a life sentence. Spring is coming. Your spiritual climate will change in the coming days.

As you experience this change of seasons, God will be faithful to melt the remaining painful evidence left behind by the storm. There will soon come a day when, in the Spirit, you will stand over the last remaining remnant of your life-storm. It will be for you like it was for me standing over the last remnant of our storm. You will see the remnant melting before your eyes. On that day the Lord will say, “Spiritual spring has come. Your winter is over. I have removed the last remnant of your devastation. A new season has arrived.”

Monday, March 4, 2019

Crossing Life's Intersections

Every intersection of life has a word from the Lord in place that will function as a traffic signal. As you approach these intersections read the signals carefully and wisely. Some have sped through these intersections without wisdom and their assumptions have caused unnecessary collisions. As you approach your next intersection, take time to read and discern the signs God has in place. They were put there for your safety and the safety of those who are traveling with you.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Remembering Where We Were Going

Perhaps it's because I am writing this on Sunday evening knowing Monday is coming that I sense a somber, tender sorrow of sorts. Monday is that day when the routine of life is re-engaged, again. These routines become so circular and repetitive that we can forget where we were going. 

A dream can succumb to the demands of a routine. Relationships can become derailed and fall to the wayside because the routine demanded all our attention. A child can reach out to a parent who is physically present but emotionally distant thinking only about the routine. Routines must live in submission to the dream destination or we will lose our way.

Tonight, try to remember where you were going before the routine created its detour. When you go to bed tonight, kneel at your bedside and pray. Ask God to show you where you were going, but forget because the demands of your life-routine erased your dream map. When you awake tomorrow morning, take steps to engage the dream once again and you will rediscover where you were going. 

Elements

Life is a collection of journeys, not just a single trip. Each journey has a measure of faith assigned to it that we are to ask God to release. Without this measure of faith, we will process the journey only with natural sight and without assurance for those parts of the transition we cannot yet see. 
We have the tendency to over-focus on what is immediate and visible. Our myopic vision actually blurs our ability to see the lessons learned from past experiences. God uses those lessons to help us plan in the present a successful transition into the future. 
You may need to walk away—far enough away from what is before you so that you can gain a new perspective and see your life from a panoramic point of view. Has God ever failed you? Has he ever not provided a way for you in the past? It is time to see how faithful God has been in the past so that you don’t have fear about what is developing in your future. 

(An excerpt from the book, A Good Place.)

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Stepping Through

You might call it a doorway, a portal, a threshold, or an access point. In whatever way you choose to describe it – step through this narrowing point in your journey. God will not leave you hanging. He has been waiting for you to step forward so He could align your life with His promise. You are about to step onto the terrain of a new season. Don’t allow the regrets from your past to hinder this moment of expansion. This is your time to step forward. Don't look back! A wonderful future lies just ahead on the other side of this step of faith.

Experiencing the Heat of God's Presence

This morning, I sat down in my writing chair a bit earlier than normal. I had a direction for what I planned to write today, but then the Lord changed that direction.

As I sat in the early morning stillness, an image developed before me of wax figures. They appeared like the reproductions of famous people you would see in a wax museum. As I continued to watch the developing scene, I saw these figures walking along the streets of our cities and in the halls of the institutions in our culture. 

I saw the presence of the Lord enter the frame of the spiritual movie I was watching. The heat of His presence began to melt some of the people who stood in positions of cultural influence. These individuals occupied what appeared at first to be unapproachable positions of authority atop the 7 mountains of culture. The faces of these wax figures began to melt exposing the hidden persona behind the illusion of their image.  The wax figures were eventually reduced to nothing more than a puddle under the influence of God’s presence. I saw people stepping over these waxy remains and moving forward under the call of God.

God is about to surprise some of us regarding who and what will melt as His presence begins to move through our culture. We have carried many assumptions into this season of our history. God will melt our assumptions in the process. Prepare to be surprised at what will melt in the coming days. The heat of God’s presence is no respecter of persons.

“The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth” 
(Psalms 97:5).

Friday, March 1, 2019

You Are What You Drive - Really?

Years ago, I was on a long, cross-country flight across America. For the duration of the flight, I sat next to a film producer who created television ads for Nissan. As we talked about her assignment and how she creates ads, she made a comment, “You are what you drive.” She said that comment was the message of her current ad campaign. I was shocked by her statement. At the time, I was driving a car that gave lots of impressions, none of which I wanted to represent.

The logic of the producer is not just the bedrock of a slogan-driven advertising campaign it can even seep into the thinking of people of faith. God likes to shake up this way of thinking by bringing people and unusual manifestations of His Spirit into our lives to confront these foolish mindsets.

Think about Isaiah the prophet who was called to prophesy lying on his side for over a year or John the Baptist dressed in camel hair and eating meals of insects dipped in honey. On the Day of Pentecost, some observers thought the people under the influence of the Spirit were hitting the bottle a bit too early in the day. What about the Azusa Street Revival when the fire department was repeatedly called because flames of fire appeared on the roof where the meetings were taking place?

When we allow the culture or even the church culture to define what we think we need, we put ourselves in a place of jeopardy. It is the kind of jeopardy that distances us from the voice of God requiring another person or group to bring definition to our life. Once a created need is believed we will go into all kinds of debt to drive the image we think we lack. It can take the form of unreasonable financial debt, spiritual debt, relational debt or emotional debt. 

None of these forms of debt-bondage can ever accurately define us. We enter this life already defined by God. We entered this life as a completely loved and fully accepted child of God. We become vulnerable to manipulation when we forget the greatest debt in our life has already been paid by the One who knows us best. We have no other debt in this life except the debt of love.

I would like to introduce a new ad slogan – “You are what you believe.” If we believe that God is a good, merciful and loving Father, we will not be vulnerable to the presentation of a glossy ad campaign from the marketers in the world or sadly, at times, in the Church. 


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Renewing Spiritual Passport

Jan and I had to renew our passports. The new passports arrived in the mail this week. As I pondered our passports, I heard the Lord speak a word for some of you (and for Jan and me). He said, “It is time to renew your spiritual passport. I have places to take you – ports of call for you to enter and borders for you to cross. I have passages prepared that you could not imagine. Your spiritual passport renewal process requires that you trust Me with an increased level of faith. I will open up a way through restricted borders allowing you to enter cultures and relationships that had been previously closed to your entry. The way is about to open up before you. Walk through it. I have made a way!"

Going Deeper – Ministering to Heart of Human Brokenness

Jesus did not minister to the side effects of sin and human brokenness. He pressed through the surface manifestations and went straight to the heart of an issue. Those listening and watching these revelatory events were unaware that something deeper was at play. Jesus did this because the surface side effect of a problem has the ability to mask a hidden lie or misconception that is embedded deep within a life. These embedded issues can only be uncovered and disempowered by a revelatory work of the Spirit. 

This kind of Spirit-led ministry can make some people nervous because these issues cannot be discovered by familiar methods like medication or counseling. These root causes are only discovered by a journey initiated and led by the Spirit. In that journey, the Spirit helps a person press through the surface issues and go deeper to reveal the root cause that is giving birth to the surface brokenness manifesting itself in the form of a side effect. 

This is an uncomfortable journey for some to make because of fear or shame, but it is the only journey that brings true and lasting freedom – a freedom that removes not only the root cause of a life-issue but also the side effects that lead people into deeper bondage. Without this freedom hopeless can take over a person’s thinking leading them to a life of despair.

There are people out there who can help us make this journey. My wife, Jan and our friend, Gail Perry, are two people I know who are gifted in helping people go deeper to discover these hidden issues. There are others out there who also carry this gifting. If you or someone you know continues to come up against a wall in their search for freedom, it would be wise to find those who know how to help people disover this kind of freedom.

Medication can help balance our body chemistry and wise counsel can help us learn how to manage our lives, but true and lasting freedom is not found in either of these remedies. Only when deeply embedded lies and misconceptions are discovered and exposed to the love of God can true freedom be experienced. That is what Jesus offered to people held captive to a life of side effects. It is a freedom that only comes when the truth of God's love is taken deep into a human soul to displace the lies that create a life held captive to the bondage of side effects.



Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Engaging the Civil War

Some prophetic voices are warning us of a coming civil war in America. That civil war will not start sometime in the future. It is here now. It's not a war of bullets and bombs. It is social, political and moral combat taking place right before our eyes. We can see this conflict if we are looking with the eyes of the Spirit.

To those living in spiritual slumber, this kind of talk sounds ignorant, unhip and something only those on the fringe would consider. It can appear anti-intellectual and uncool and unable to survive an espresso bar conversation without eyes starting to roll. 

In an attempt to not ruffle the feathers of anyone, we can become a dull tool in the hands of God unable to cut through the deception holding our culture captive. Turning away from evil in any form and hoping it will go away and not bother us is not the way of Jesus the carpenter God-man. Our Savior turned over the tables of the deluded religious establishment of His day. He made tough statements to shocked listeners. He confronted the assumptions of covenant people who had allowed a lesser kingdom to define the reality of their morality.

Do not allow your theology to be reduced to a theory without a response even if that response will label you as a nutcase and drive you into social isolation. John the Baptist cried out from a wilderness place for his culture to repent and following the sound of his voice, a great move of God appeared. 

We are in a John the Baptist moment of history. God is calling and releasing uncompromised voices to declare His heart to the surrounding culture with wisdom and compassion. Be one of those voices and you will not have to live with the sorrow and regret that comes from a life of silent disengagement.


When the Gossips Gossip

The negative and demeaning conversations that take place behind your back and outside your presence are typically based on assumption and misinformation. These conversations are called gossip. Do not align your concern with an attempt to correct these sad conversations and don’t expend your limited energy trying to correct the sin of a talebearer. That is a ploy of the enemy to draw you away, drain your strength and corrupt your heart. 

When unfounded gossip is flying about unrestrained you have a choice. You can plan to retaliate and become part of a larger problem or you can thank God for the mercy He extended to you when you did the same thing in your moments of weakness. That thankfulness will keep you humble and separate from acts of vengeance and retribution. 

Bless your accusers when you hear their whispers. A blessing has the power and authority to destroy a dark agenda. Blessing our enemies is a potent weapon of spiritual warfare.

In the process, stay focused on God. He is your only safe refuge when under attack and He is the One whose opinion about you matters most. If you can focus on that opinion when the blade of gossip tries to cut into your heart you will come out the other side of the experience a better person emotionally and spiritually. If you can navigate these attacks with wisdom and compassion, you will receive a supernatural gift. You will be able to look your accusers in the eye and forgive them and really mean it.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Summit of Our Fears

For the last few years, I have loosely followed the career of the rock climber, Alex Honnold. He is super-human in his ability to scale what appear to be impossible rock walls. His most notable climb was made alone without ropes and climbing gear up the face of El Capitan in Yosemite. The climb was filmed in a recent documentary titled, Free Solo. In a trailer for the film, Honnold addressed the issue of fear. He said, “I work to expand my comfort zone until there is no fear there.” This week the film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Scripture tells us that perfect love casts out fear. I used to think if I had God’s love, fear would have to leave. I have found that is not true unless my faith is involved in the process of casting out the fear. The casting out is not some magic phrase we utter and fear has to run away. It involves something more. 

I have experienced plenty of fear while the love of God was all around me. The fear never left unless I was involved in its expulsion.  In order for our comfort zone to expand and overcome our place of fear, we must involve our faith with God’s love to scale the impossible places where fear is entrenched and stands before us spiritually as El Capitan stood before Honnold when he climbed its vertical rock wall.

There are times when the promise of God is waiting just across a Red Sea experience or at the top of a summit of a challenge that looks to us like El Capitan. At first, it seems impossible to make these passages and ascents because between us and the promise lies an obstacle we cannot comprehend overcoming. When you find yourself looking at a promise and saying, “I’m not comfortable with that” know that you are in the right place. No promise is easy. In your moment of uncomfortableness reach out and take the first handhold you see and begin to pull yourself upward. God will faithfully reveal each crack and crevice you will need to make it all the way to the top. 

In the ascent, you will be confronted by your worst fears. As you continue to rise higher with each act of faith, God will ask you to exchange your fear for an act of personal courage. This process is what will cast out fear and help you continue to move higher as love pushes fear out of your way.  There will come a moment when you finally reach the summit of the challenge you and others had previously thought impossible. That destination is available for anyone who is willing to exchange their fear for the kind of faith that can rise above any obstacle. This is the kind of faith we thought impossible before the journey began and our comfort zone was defined by our fears. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

God's Light of Revelation

Last night, after a full night of sleep, I awoke early in the darkness. As I was lying in bed, a notification was sent to my cell phone at 3:30 am. The message lit up the phone’s screen and that little bit of light faintly illuminated the bedroom just enough for me to make out where all the furniture was positioned. 

As I looked around in the illuminated darkness, I sensed the Lord begin to speak. “Your decision has been surrounded by darkness. It is not the darkness of evil. It is the darkness that surrounds a circumstance without My revelation. I am sending the answer you requested and that answer will have enough illumination to help you find your way. When the light comes, rise up and move forward. At that moment, you will know that I have made a way.”

Just as I was in total darkness in our bedroom moments before a message lit up the screen of my cell phone and illuminated my surroundings, so it will be for some of you seeking an answer for the next step in your journey.  In the darkness, wait in hope. God will be faithful to answer you and bring the needed illumination that will arrive with His revelation. When His word comes, swing your feet out onto the floor of an unfolding new season and take your first step into a new day. What was a mystery will no longer be a mystery because you will now see what the Lord wanted you to see but remained hidden in the darkness.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalms 119:105).

Sunday, February 24, 2019

25,240 Mornings

This morning I awoke to my 25,240thmorning on Earth. Lord willing, I will awake to number 25,241. I have prepared the coffee pot, planned a BBQ and scheduled some errands for tomorrow. As the evening approaches, I am asking the Lord to reveal the assumptions He wants me to shed before 25,241 arrives. Everything taking place today that we think will continue on tomorrow uninterrupted is an assumption if it’s not connected to the love and eternal goodness of God.  Be at peace. Sleep well. God is with you.

Retrieving the Promises

Every season in your life will have a promise assigned to it. The children of Israel entered the Promised Land with a promise. The Early Church did not leave Jerusalem until the promised Spirit came. You will not move successfully through life without a promise. Everything given to us is the result of a promise God has made.                                                      

Promises are powerful because, when spoken, they become a gathering point to assemble the supernatural resources of God that make the promise become a reality. It is important for you to actually speak out the promises of God. Spoken promises interrupt the environment of the status quo and call forth something new. A spoken promise can become the turning point in a life-transition.                                                                                                     

If you feel like you have no promise, you have not been listening close enough to what God is saying. Ask God to share again with you the promises he has made over your life. As you wait, you will hear things that may sound presumptive or border on the absurd. You can trust God that He is good and has wonderful promises ready to release into your life.                                 

(An excerpt from the book, A Good Place. https://www.amazon.com/Good-Place-Walking-Transitions-Ministry/dp/0615947573/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1545056288&sr=8-6&keywords=garris+elkins)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Making Challenging Decisions

Recently, I communicated with a friend who is entertaining several options that will change the direction of his life. I said God is waiting for him at the destination of his choice ready to welcome him with blessings that have been prepared for his arrival. If you have sought God in your decision-making process the advice I gave my friend also applies to you. Don't be afraid of making challenging decisions. God is not nervous about the outcome of your choices and neither should you. Trust Him. Rest in Him. Follow the peace and make your decision. It will all work out because God is with you.

Who or What is Driving Your Life?

Jan’s Subaru Impreza is 9 years old and my Nissan pickup just celebrated its 15th year. They don’t have lots of gadgets and features. Both vehicles are plain vanilla versions of their respective brands. The best feature on both of our cars is one not provided by any dealer. It is a feature called “Paid Off – No Car Payments.” I recommend this feature above all others being offered. 

I was looking at some YouTube videos about new cars and their technology just to be up to speed on what’s out there in the event that someday we need to buy another car. The features some of these new vehicles come with are amazing. The list includes adaptive cruise control, rearview cameras, pedestrian warning, dash lights letting parents know if the kids in the back seat have their seat belts fastened and the list goes on. It is truly amazing. 

The one piece of technology that creeps me out is the lane assist function. The car’s computer reads the white lines on the sides of the road and turns the steering wheel to keep the car within its lane. I recently drove a friend's new car with this feature and didn’t like it. I like to drive my car. I don’t like a car to drive me. That is one option I would either disconnect or not consider as important in a future purchase decision.

The lives of some people remind me of the lane assist feature. Someone or something seems to be driving them. They have taken their hands off the steering wheel of their life and a separate decision-making entity is doing the navigating.

Alongside God’s love for us, our free will is our next most precious gift. God gave us a free will to make choices no one else can make for us. There is no faith lane assist function for our spiritual life. God honors our freedom to make our own decisions, good or bad. God wants our hands on the steering wheel of life, sensing the nuances of our faith and the surface of the unique road He has called each of us to travel.

If someone or something is calling the shots on the roadway of your faith, turn off their influence and put your hands back on the steering wheel. Your faith is not supposed to be a robotic experience where you are only a passenger along for the ride. God wants you to make the turns of your life in concert with the direction of the Spirit. That is the safest and most freeing way to travel through life. 




Friday, February 22, 2019

Preparing for a Smooth Landing

Last night, a memory came to my mind of the time when our family lived in the Caribbean. The kids wanted to see Kingston, Jamaica from the air.  I had not flown in a couple of years and wasn’t current so I could not rent an aircraft. I called up a local charter company and arranged an hour flight in a Cessna 182. The pilot and I sat in the front seats and my kids sat in the back and off we went.

After orbiting around the city for the better part of an hour it was time to head back to the airport. During the flight, the pilot and I talked and he found out I had been a flight instructor and charter pilot. To my surprise, he said, “Do you want to take it in?” I said, “Sure.” I had not landed an airplane in several years but knew I could land without a problem. It was my refined skills that were rusty. As we approached the airport, I wanted to execute a good landing to keep my piloting pride somewhat intact.

When I turned from base to final, the air was still and thick. My airspeed was right on the money. When we crossed the numbers, I eased back on the yoke and held the nose up as the airspeed bled off and the Cessna gently touched down. The landing was so smooth we did not actually feel the wheels touch the runway. It was that perfect. The charter pilot turned to me and said, “Now, that’s how to land a 182!” I tried to act like it happened all the time when in reality it was one of the best landings I had ever completed - even when current and flying frequently. God was kind to an out of currency pilot that day.

The key to a smooth landing is the result of learning how to hold an aircraft off the runway during the last moments of flight just before touchdown. This is where any excess airspeed is allowed to bleed off until the wing stops flying and the airplane touches down. It is the part of a flight where the smallest adjustments can bring the greatest results. Flying an aircraft thousands of feet up in the air is not a real challenge – touching down safely and smoothly is where your piloting skills are revealed.

When the memory of the flight in Jamaica came to mind, I knew it would apply to some of you reading these words. You are approaching the final stages of what God has assigned for you to complete.  At this point, impatience will be your enemy. You need to bleed off some of the speed that has carried you this far. It has been a long flight of faith. Don’t rush these critical remaining moments. There is no need for a rough landing. Hold onto to your faith for just a little longer. 

It would be easy to rush the landing because you have worked hard for this moment and you can see the completion just ahead. Like a pilot who has learned to not rush a landing, so it will be for you. If you can be patient for just a little longer, you will touch down gently and wonder how everything worked out so smoothly. Happy flying!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Getting Unstuck

A vision for a business, a ministry or a personal life that has become stuck and lost its mobility can turn its adherents into managers of the status quo. It takes courage for someone to rise up and challenge the direction of a vision and make the hard choices to realign the vision with God’s original intent. The managers of these stuck visions will construct strict parameters and controlled outcomes like moats around a castle to keep the vision isolated from evaluation and moving forward in a predetermined direction. This happens because those in charge see no other way. There are times when the way forward is not actually forward but back to the drawing board or laterally in order to intercept and engage a move of God that could pass by unnoticed. Vision is not always linear and forward.

If you are called to disrupt the direction of a stuck and short-sighted vision, the greatest work you do will first be done in your heart in the area of your motives. The anger, disgust or frustration you might feel about how things have been handled cannot be allowed to formulate your choices or guide your actions. To partner with the Spirit to bring about the course correction of a stuck vision requires a unique blend of humility, wisdom and Spirit-led action. Ask God for those three gifts and allow Him to examine and purify your motives.  If you do this He will be able to use you in remarkable ways to not only steer the heart of a vision but to help steer the hearts of those involved. Only God can bring this kind of transformation to a vision. Trust His ways and He will make a way.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Time of a Woman

For the last 45 years, I have witnessed the beauty of time as it works its magic on the life of a woman committed to God. With each passing hour, the hands of a woman’s life-clock become the chisel strokes of the Master Sculptor. These strokes reveal the hidden prize of a deeper beauty that lies within each woman. Fear wants to mask this unfolding beauty not realizing the work of God-art it conceals.

If you are a man, give a woman permission to live in the freedom of her maturing life. If you are a woman never allow anyone to cause you to think you are anything less than magnificent with each passing year.

We live in a delusional world. These delusions are friends to the airbrush, the dyes, and the nip and tuck. Never compromise with these delusions in your God-ordained process of maturing. “The best is yet to come” is not some cute compromising statement of resignation to settle for something less. The best is always ahead of those whose life journey is an ongoing celebration as they move through each stage of life’s maturing process.


Off in the Distance

Make the small course correction the Lord is asking you to make. It will be an important decision at this point in your journey. If you have the faith to make this turn and align your direction with God’s voice even though you still do not see the destination, it will eventually appear in front of you and you will be set up for a safe landing. If you do not make this small and seemingly insignificant heading change your destination could be missed and pass by you somewhere off in the distance unnoticed. Trust the Lord with this adjustment and He will bring you safely to a place that is still out of sight and beyond the horizon but drawing closer and closer each time you exercise your faith.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Compression-Decompression

Your time of compression is coming to an end. You have been living under tremendous weight. A process of decompression has arrived to relieve the pressure. Like a diver returning from the depths of the ocean, you will need to decompress before you return to the surface of your calling. Give God all the time He needs to complete this cycle of decompression. Your spiritual and emotional health depends on your willingness to wait and trust God’s timing. In the waiting, you will see more clearly the weight that pushed you down into a dangerous depth. God is bringing you back to the surface. Rise patiently with Him. When you finally come back to the surface a fresh breath of the Spirit will be awaiting your arrival.