Sunday, June 30, 2019

In a Perfect Storm

In a life-transition, you will never find yourself in a situation where God does not have a plan of rescue in place. Trust him. 
Ship captains don’t start their sea voyages by planning to sink. Neither do we start our transitions by planning to sink. However, there may come a time when you experience a storm, a “perfect storm,” when all the elements for disaster come together and threaten the transition. 
These are relational storms that have dangerous reefs of distrust, winds of betrayal, and waves of conflict that seem too high for your current level of faith. These storms break your heart. Your future and family face uncertainty. Havoc seems to fill the air, and you have nowhere to run because you are trapped on the open seas of transitional turmoil. 
In the stormy moments when you think all is lost, call out to God. He has a plan to help you ride through the storm to a safe harbor. And sometimes, he will supernaturally calm the storm first and have you move forward across calm waters. 
(An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

On the Verge

Lately, the Lord has been giving me a sense that we are standing on the verge of a significant moment in human history. The days just before any significant event are filled with normal activities of life. The interruptions caused by these significant events have always caught humanity off guard. It is in those unexpected moments when our emotional and spiritual equilibrium is challenged that God will call certain people to carry the significant moment into previously unimagined displays of His glory. Many who are called in these times would never have considered themselves for such a role.

No one can fully know or predict all the details of what is coming. We only see pieces of a much larger mosaic.  What is approaching will be akin to reformation and renaissance. A trigger event will take place setting in motion the falling of a line of dominoes God has arranged. These are not dominoes of fear and dark expectations that some prophets of doom unwisely predict. They are the dominoes set in place by a loving Father.

When the dominoes begin to fall those whose hearts have been aligned to the goodness and faithfulness of God will be the ones He will use in profound ways during a time of unusual cultural transformation. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Footprints of Your Faith

This morning Jan and I took our morning walk in the Old Mill District of Bend, Oregon. Near our hotel, we came upon a sidewalk that for at least half a city block, a dog had left his paw prints in the concrete. I am especially dog conscious because in July we will pick up our new Australian Shepherd puppy (by the way, his name will be Boone).
As I walked in the dog’s steps, I thought of some of you who have wondered if the life-path you have chosen to walk upon would leave behind anything meaningful. In the Spirit, your footprints have been set in spiritual concrete for following generations as a witness to God’s faithfulness. You are leaving behind a forever witness of faithfully following the Lord. 
Someday, someone will see your footprints when they begin to walk into a challenging season of life. What you leave behind will be just the encouragement they will need to continue moving forward knowing if it was possible for you to keep going during a challenging season it will also be possible for them.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Gateway into God's Secret Garden

This week we installed a gate on a doorway that will lead into an area on our property we call The Secret Garden. I went to town to get a set of hinges for the gate. The hinges I brought back were overly large for such a project. They could hold a gate many times larger than the one we were installing.

When I held the large hinges in my hands, the Lord began to speak. 

“I have increased your ability to carry the weight of a fresh anointing. The challenges in the past season have been preparatory. I have been preparing you and hanging new hinges on your life – hinges able to carry the increased weight of the gateway that will lead you into a new anointing for a new adventure in My of Kingdom.”

I knew this word was not just for Jan and me. The coming season will reveal to many of you a hidden Secret Garden of God’s presence and purpose. A gateway of opportunity into this new place has been prepared and it is about to swing open up before you. You will hear the Lord say, "This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Thread of Our Life

Throughout Scripture, a scarlet thread of the life of Jesus has been present from Genesis to Revelation. This is not just a historic thread to be observed academically from a distance. It is a personal thread revealed to us to help us see the life of Jesus Christ at work in human history. That thread has been used by God to bring together the fabric of torn and damaged lives restoring people when life has ripped them apart.

Just as someone would use a thread and a needle to repair a torn piece of fabric, so it is with our lives. The life of Jesus is offered to us to repair our torn places, but we must be willing to put His thread through the eye of the needle of our faith in order to begin patching together what has been torn apart. A thread of unforgiveness, fear and hopelessness cannot withstand the tension created by the flexing garment of life. 

There is no tear of relationship, no disappointment of an unkept promise or any personal failure so large that it cannot be brought back together by the binding thread of His love. Offering God the sewing needle of our faith is a testimony that tells the world we believe in all things God can rejoin what seems to be forever separated. The scarlet thread of Jesus, when sewn into these painful places, will stand out from the other thread as a heavenly contrast always reminding us that God’s goodness brought things back together.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Detour

Telling God where you will go or not go is the beginning of a detour you might not return from. 
When we begin to demand that God show us what our future and its provision will look like, we begin taking a dangerous detour. This is a road paved with fear. This road is protected by the sentinel of self and closes off the voice of God that says, “Trust me.” 
These demands on God about our future are sourced in the fear that he will not come through for us. A detour begins when we push trust aside and the responsibility of personal provision and direction falls upon our shoulders. We begin to carry burdens that are not ours to bear. 
As the process of your life transition deepens, you will need to focus more intentionally on God’s voice. This is a time to lean in and strain your ear to hear his whispers. His voice is your only reliable source of direction. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Top Line

A Kingdom mindset is not limited to the bottom line. Creating a vision and mission around a bottom line is the product of a natural mindset. This way of thinking is limited by what can be measured and considered by human reasoning. God invites us to entertain the top line. A top line consideration invites Heaven’s resources and empowerment to redefine what we do and how we live. Top line thinking is absent in most endeavors until a Kingdom-minded entrepreneur walks in the door. Be that person.

A Boy's Crumpled Dollar

Last weekend, Jan and I were ministering at Won by One Church in Oregon City, Oregon. It was a wonderful weekend. We spent time with the leadership team in several different settings and then we spoke during their Sunday morning worship service. Just before the service began a son of one of the men on the pastoral team came up to me. He is a grade school age boy.  He greeted me and pulled out a crumbled one-dollar bill from his pocket and presented it to me. I asked, “What’s this?” He said, “It’s for you.” I put my arm around the boy and thanked him for his gift. A dollar means a lot to a kid. As I received the boy’s gift, I was actually receiving it for a greater purpose. I didn’t need a dollar. I needed what the dollar represented. 

The parents of this young man had taught him something many older men have yet to learn. The boy was giving beyond himself. His brothers were just like him. All weekend long they were hanging around me and each day they greeted me with smiles. Their young lives were already marked by honor.

Years ago, I remember Jack Hayford telling a group of us about a $100.00 bill someone gave to him. He knew that $100.00 had another assignment rather than just spending it on himself. He gave it away. In a few weeks, another person gave him another $100.00 bill. He gave that one away. This back and forth receiving-giving went on for the longest time. Jack said he could never give the $100.00 bill away no matter how hard he tried. It just kept coming back to him.

The same is true for the $1.00 bill the boy gave to me. I am going to try and give it away because it really doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to honor. The young boy honored me last Sunday and I want to partner with the continued release of his kind gesture. A single dollar doesn’t sound like much to a natural mind, but there is a unique value attached to a dollar given in honor that I want to see released into a world that many times only takes, but never gives. 

The best sermon preached last Sunday was a sermon on giving by a grade school preacher just before the adults did their thing. God will use that young man in profound ways because the Lord has already captured his heart.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

God's Pairing

Jan and I live in a wonderful place. We have bakeries, wineries, gourmet cheese factories and chocolatiers all set in the frame of our beautiful natural surroundings. From time to time an invitation will go out for the community to come and experience a pairing. A pairing is where a wine-maker or chef will pair a wine with cheese, special food or chocolate to show a customer a unique union of food and beverage that might not have been considered.

Just this week, I read of one such pairing taking place in our town. When I read the invitation, the Lord impressed upon me that a unique pairing would take place for some of you. You have been looking for a breakthrough, not a pairing. The word “breakthrough” has become a worn word in prophetic circles. Some have turned off the sound of its promise because it seems to be announced each day by someone with little result. You have doubted if you were a candidate for a breakthrough. God wants to redefine that word for you.

God is about to expand your spiritual palate. A pairing is coming that will actually be the breakthrough you have been praying for but had not considered it would take place in such a new and unusual fashion.  The spiritual pairing of a new relationship will be like a customer at a food pairing who tastes a new food combination for the first time and is surprised something they had never tasted before could be so good in its unique combination and presentation.

Be careful to not reject the coming offering of an unusual pairing based solely on your past experience. This will be something that will at first taste new and unfamiliar to your spiritual taste buds. There is nothing to fear. God has a very diverse family and a wide variety of methods at His disposal to accomplish His will. You are being invited to a pairing that will be a beautiful experience and one that will eventually become the breakthrough you have prayed would someday come.

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

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Top of the Heap

Striving to stand atop the proverbial heap will leave you standing at the summit of just a heap. An elevated position of earthly power and authority is not the only place where significant revelation occurs. 

The greatest revelations are designed to arrive on Earth as it is in Heaven to anyone who is seeking the Lord, not a place atop a human hierarchy. God’s revelation can come to anyone, anywhere no matter who they are or where their life is positioned, top, bottom or somewhere in between. A place of human elevation becomes insignificant in the face of Heaven’s revelation. 

Seek God’s face, not a position of man-made authority. If you do this you will become a Kingdom change agent bringing solutions to situations once defined as impossible before God’s revelation arrived.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Overcoming the Startle Factor

Have you ever wondered why people freeze up and are unable to respond to an emergency? There is something called the “startle factor.” It occurs in a state of emergency when overwhelming outside stimuli takes place like stark visuals and loud noises. It causes people to freeze and in some cases panic losing precious life-saving seconds that could have been used to resolve the problem.

The startle factor was recently brought to light by Sully Sullenberger the airline captain who famously landed his disabled airliner in the Hudson River creating what has been referred to as “The Miracle on the Hudson.” With the recent crashes of two Boeing 737 Max airliners, Sully was asked to comment during investigative hearings. He brought up the startle factor as a contributing cause for the crashes when the aircraft gave warnings in response to an angle of attack sensor that issued an incorrect warning. 

Sully went on to say the warnings in the cockpit created sudden, loud and disorienting noises that became major distractions for the pilots. The noise and resulting confusion masked the real cause of the problem. These distractions made it difficult to quickly analyze the situation and take proper corrective action. Referencing the two Boeing crashes another pilot said, “This is a sudden, violent and terrifying event. Airplanes pitching up and down rapidly and violently. There are bells, warnings, and clappers sounding. Communication is difficult.”

When I read the information about these crashes, I thought of how we can be startled by a painful event or some sad news to the point that we can freeze up and not properly respond. A spouse announces a divorce. A job is lost or a fatal disease is diagnosed. We are not robots without emotion when these issues are thrown in our face, but we can train for how we will respond when these events do occur. In the case of the Boeing 737’s and their pilots, new software is being created to correct the false readings and revised training guidelines are being introduced for the pilots.

The loud and distracting noise of life’s challenging moments can be so intense that the news of their arrival could startle us to such a degree that we freeze up in fear and fail to respond in faith. This leaves us vulnerable to catastrophic failure in relationships and calling. It is important to not live in fear always imagining the worst, but it is important to consider how we would respond when trauma or disappointment comes in a loud and invasive way. 

Consider formulating a statement of faith or imagining a healthy response that would honor God if or when a painful event should ever take place. This will give you time to consider your options while you remain at the controls of your life in faith allowing you to fly the dysfunction through the first few minutes of danger where the course and outcome of your future will be determined. Always believe the best, but do not allow yourself to be startled and frozen in a state of inaction when the challenges of life occur. Prepare now so that you can respond in faith when the unexpected in life takes place.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Arrival of Prophetic Echoes

The echoes of prophetic words spoken in the past are approaching our moment of history. These are words that were assigned to be received and experienced more than once. They are living words that are continually issuing a prophetic echo. 

These echoes carry generational assignments to be delivered and redelivered at various times throughout history. They are like the word Joel spoke about the coming of the Spirit that would be poured out in the last days. That promise first released on the Day of Pentecost would become a continuous prophetic echo - a promise available to each generation that would follow. It has been an echo of prophetic promise heard in each revival and renewal in the last 2,000 years of Church history.

Some of these approaching prophetic echoes are specific for families and nations. Other echoes will be heard by church movements and denominations that once experienced a powerful work of the Spirit, but live today empowered only by good works, well-meaning programs and enough money to mask their lack of power. The approaching echoes will awaken abandoned destines.

Each echo will be as powerful today as when its promise was first delivered. Time and distance will have no negative effect. A prophetic echo carries the same authority and power today as when it was originally released. Only a lack of faith can diminish its intended impact. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Rightly Dividing the News

We have all heard the term “keeping abreast of the latest news.” It’s a fairly common phrase. I have always thought it meant to keep informed on the latest happenings in the world. It has a deeper meaning. 

The word “abreast” is defined to mean “beside one another in a line” or two ships docked “side by side.” The etymology of the word comes from Middle English and is made up of two words a - (“on” or “at”) and breast ("chests in line, side-by-side"). It is a word that infers proximity.

Paul wrote about our spiritual armor and referred to the chest area of our body when he wrote, “Put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14). The breastplate Paul spoke about is constructed of the righteousness of Jesus Christ designed to cover a vital part of our spiritual anatomy. In the original language, the word “righteousness" is defined as "integrity, virtue, correctness in thinking, feeling or acting.” This breastplate covers the area of our heart where our emotions, thoughts, and choices come from. The book of Proverbs warns us about the condition of our heart, “Above all things, guard your heart” (4:23). Jesus said of our hearts, “But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you” (Matthew 15:18). 

When we receive something from a news source and attempt to interpret the validity of its content, the condition of our hearts will determine what we allow to stand side-by-side with us in our opinion or predisposition. We can too easily dock our opinion alongside what is familiar and accepted by friends and co-workers and never entertain the value of an opposing opinion. At this point, we have allowed human opinion, not the righteousness of Christ to be our heart covering and the ultimate interpreter of truth.

To keep abreast of the latest news and the affairs of life requires that first and foremost we discern the condition of our heart before we try to discern the content of the news. Is the condition of my heart aligned with integrity and virtue? Is the response I am about to release regarding a hot-button social issue in line with the righteousness of Jesus? If not, my heart will be exposed to influences that lack integrity, truth and a right response. My interpretation of reality will be at odds with God’s truth. 

In the end, the uncovered state of our heart will leave us vulnerable to an attack of disinformation and we will not be aligned with what is truly righteous. Above all things...

Monday, June 17, 2019

Warm Summer Nights

Tonight, I’m thinking of the warm summer nights of my boyhood riding in my dad’s 59 Chevy pickup. Mom and dad were up front. My brother and I rode in the back seated in the truck bed. It was a Friday night ritual heading into town to get broasted chicken and milkshakes. 

Dwain and I tossed pebbles at passing mailboxes, told tall boy-tales and dreamed of cute girls. The warm summer air bathed our faces as the truck moved through the night. The clear sky above was filled with bright stars. The hot night air passing across our young faces set the thermostat for our dreaming young minds. It was white t-shirt weather, a 501 Levi’s and black hi-top Chuck Taylor period of life – a time of innocent simplicity. 

The memories of those warm summer nights were given to me as a gift to store away and be recalled toward the end of my life as a reminder of what's important. Those memories remain as tender today as they were many years ago when first experienced riding in the back of dad's pickup on a warm California summer night.

The Whisper of a God-Warning

Jan and I live in a small cottage built during World War II. It was part of an officer's housing unit in a military training facility located in southern Oregon during the war. After the war, our home was purchased at auction and moved to its current location in 1948. Like all older homes, it makes unique sounds. I can tell by the sound of a footstep where someone is walking in our home. We have four wooden gates on our property and each one squeaks and creaks its own sound when opened.

A few nights ago, I was awakened from a dead sleep when a gate just outside our bedroom window made a squeak that would be imperceptible to most people, but I am familiar with its unique sound. When the gate squeaked, I rose from our bed, to listen and to prepare. It would not be a wise move for personal health reasons for anyone to attempt to enter our home without permission at any time, day or night. No other sounds followed. I remained awake for a few more minutes and then went back to sleep.

Sounds of warning in the Spirit can be as quiet as the sound made by our gate. They are not a loud blast from a horn or a strident bell ringing. Sounds of warning made by the Spirit can be like a gentle whisper only heard by those whose ears have been trained and attuned to the voice of God.

There is a great deal of noise being made in our culture. We need discerning ears to navigate through the sound melee to find the substance of truth. God gives us the ability to hear in reverse of how an unredeemed mind hears. An unredeemed mind only hears the noise and assigns a threat level to the loudest noise being made. A redeemed mind hears just the opposite. Redeemed ears hear the gentle whispers of the Spirit embedded in the clamor and take appropriate action.

You have been given the ability to live at rest in the Spirit as I did in natural sleep the night I heard the gate open. The rest of God is a rest that never puts us at risk. It simply leaves most of life’s struggles in the hands of God until He calls us to take appropriate action. God will be faithful to rouse us from a place of rest like it was when I awoke from sleep the night the gate squeaked. In those awakenings, we will hear the kind of warnings a noise-infested culture cannot hear. In these Spirit-empowered warnings are the announcements of the real danger and the specific instructions needed to respond wisely. 

If you have been listening and responding to the loudest noise and the repeated false alarms being issued 24/7 by a nervous culture you have not been at peace. Ask God to show you how to rest. In that place of rest trust God to make the gentle sounds of warning that He will be faithful to bring if and when a real danger approaches. Those warnings can be missed if we have our ears tuned only to the never-ending noise of fear and restlessness being produced in culture and sadly, within the Church

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Night Voices

Nighttime can be the worst time. This is when hell often speaks the loudest and tries to turn your rest into restlessness. 
Fatigue in life and ministry does not come from a packed schedule. We can be busy but live in rest. In times of transition, our fatigue comes when our minds are filled with unresolved conflict and fear about the future. We lay in bed and cannot turn off the voices of fear that occupy our mind. 
Fatigue takes fear to a dark place. That dark place is where our hope is robbed, and our joy is extinguished. To combat this kind of fatigue, we must resolve to not worry about the future. This is easy to say but challenging to do. We make this resolution in the assurance that God is in our future waiting for us with his love and goodness. His presence in our future is what brings peace to this present moment. 
Take your thoughts prisoner. March them to the feet of Jesus and leave them there. This is your place of rest. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Trust - God's Spiritual Muscle Car

Today, I took a few minutes between errands to visit a car show that takes place each year in Medford, Oregon. Row after row of classic cars was
lined up on a grass field in one of our city parks. In the middle of all the cars was an Olds 442 muscle car. I stopped in my tracks and stared at the car. Memories began to flood into my mind from a time in my life many years ago. A 442 was the last undercover car assigned to me when I worked in an organized crime and narcotics unit. As I stood in the summer heat I recalled high-risk takedowns, drug busts and crooked politicians who liked their dope and those who trafficked its pain and sorrow. All of those memories were in an around an Olds 442.

One memory with the 442 was of a night when my partner and I followed a lead about a potential drug buy and discovered a dirty cop. The next day after filing our report pushback came from our higher-ups informing us to leave the case alone. The pushback was in the form of a subtle threat. 

Seeing the writing on the wall, my partner and I found employment elsewhere. I ended up going to Springfield, Oregon to take a job with the police department. I had one desire. I wanted to get back in uniform and leave behind my days as an undercover cop with the long hair, a beard, and a false identity. It was in that move that I eventually walked into the doors of Faith Center in Eugene, Oregon to encounter a supernatural God and the rest is history.

You are in a vehicle of sorts at this time in your life. It may not be a muscle car, but it could be a relationship, a job or a season of life. All of these vehicles are used by God to transport us somewhere. Little did I know one dark night in an alley when I almost had to shoot a dirty cop that the vehicle I was riding in that night would be the last vehicle I would use in that capacity. One season in my law enforcement career was being driven to an end where a door of opportunity would open to reveal a new season of my life. 

Whatever life-vehicle you are riding in today trust God to use that vehicle to bring you to a place where the unfolding of the next season of your life awaits. The ultimate spiritual muscle car is a model called Trust. No threat of hell or fear of man can beat it off the line.


There are times on social media and in our personal relationships when people will unfollow us because they were afraid of where our faith would take them if they continued in the relationship. People can struggle with another person’s faith because it exposes their lack. It’s important to know this is not personal. 

When this happens, pray for them and bless them in their departure. Someday they might return and if you have kept your heart right you will be able to welcome them back because you did not label their departure as a betrayal. Their departure was a need for personal space to figure things out.  If you can give them that gift of space God will be able to do amazing works of restoration in relationships that seemed to be over before they had a chance to truly begin.

Friday, June 14, 2019

God's Pause Button

God is about to push the pause button on the circumstance of your life. The pause will cause all the confusion and surrounding spiritual noise to settle down and fall in place under submission to God's will. 

Right now it doesn’t feel like a pause button could possibly be pushed because the unsettling things in your life are making so much noise and drawing more attention than ever before. This upheaval needs to be reinterpreted. These sounds are the last dying gasps of the diversion tactics of hell just before they submit to God's pause and come into order. 

After the pause has served its purpose, the Lord will hit the spiritual play button and you will be amazed at what the Lord did for you in the pause. A tremendous peace will enter your mind and that peace will begin to direct your steps into a reordered future. 

You serve the God of the possible in all things. He wants you to know and experience that possibility especially when the desires of your heart look and sound like an utter impossibility.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Blessing of the Way-Maker - Isaiah 43:14-21 by Jan Elkins

In the name of Jesus Christ,
      I bless your spirit in this new hour.
May you take hold of something new;
      a fresh new way you have never been before,
      a fresh plan you have not imagined,
      a fresh new season you could not envision.

He is your Way-Maker: Remember His
      past deliverances and interventions
      and believe that even now
      He is birthing His promises in you.

As you remember His past works—
      lean forward into the present;
      live in the present reality
      of the Exodus-God.
See into the invisible and live from there
      as you face your future.

Listen to the Lord God, the Holy One,
      your King and Kinsman-Redeemer:
      I built roads right through deep waters,
      I carved paths right through turbulence,
      and you enemies troubled you no more.

Now I am doing something unheard of—
      a brand new thing.
Even now it is springing up and bursting out!
      Can you see it? Look, there it is—a seed

I chose you and formed you and I am
      making a way for you—I am making
      a road through the wilderness—
      supplying streams of water in the desert,
      and rivers through the sun baked 
      earth to satisfy your thirst. 

May you believe and receive blessings
      from your Kinsman-Redeemer, who has
      taken your needs as His very own needs— 
      fully involving Himself in your life,
      fully committing to you, assuring
      you of His continuing, purposeful care.
      and divine provision.

The Holy One is not outside your history
      looking in: He is right beside you; 
      He has made a way for you—
      building a road through troubled waters,
      carving a path through your turbulent past.

He is turning roadways into highways
      of safety and your enemy will
      no longer be able to trouble you.
What your Father, the King,
      did in the past,He will do again.
I bless you with His great acts as you
      journey on pathways secured
      and protected by Him.

And don’t let your past define your future. 
Don’t be weighed down by past failures
      at the expense of moving forward, 
      using them as an excuse to hold you back.
Don’t waste your sorrows—your regrets
      your discouragement and hopelessness: 
      I bless you with God’s reinterpretation
      of your history and healing.

A seed of promise often has to die
      in order to truly live:
      You are learning to overcome death
      in order to live a more abundant life—
      with greater capacity to contain
      God’s revelation of Himself
      and to walk in greater authority. 

Come breath of God—breathe life
      into the seeds of promise
      we thought were dead.

I bless you with this new day!
Like a seed germinating and breaking
      through the soil, your time has come.

He has determined to bless you—
      pouring out blessings upon blessings 
      upon blessings upon you.
Your Way-Maker is doing a new thing—
      it will be unmistakable,
      you cannot miss it!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Leave the Drama Behind and Move On

Life has enough drama. We don’t need to create drama or follow its leading. Drama is best left on a stage. Give your significant other, your co-workers, social media and the world a gift – a drama-free interaction with you. 

People who carry peace instead of drama are able to experience life at a deeper level. They have disciplined their soul to not respond to the continual flow of surrounding stimuli. An undisciplined soul can only receive input from the natural realm and responds accordingly. A disciplined soul is at peace and able to hear the gentle whispers of the Spirit and respond to the realities of life with a Spirit-controlled response. 

Leave the drama behind and follow the Spirit. Your future effectiveness in God’s Kingdom will be determined by that choice.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Discerning the Half-Truths

Over the years, I've heard people make a variety of statements that caused me to pause and ponder the credibility of what they spoke.

I once heard someone say, “If you are going to lead you need to read.” While that sounds good on the surface, it fails as a blanket statement. I have met a number of national-level leaders from developing nations that could barely read and owned no books. They were apostles providing wise oversight for thousands of people. I have known leaders in our affluent western culture that could afford to purchase and read a book a week yet struggled in the very elemental aspects of life and faith. Some of this “read to lead” mindset flows from an education-based model of leadership we have adopted that was not present in the Early Church when the Gospel was empowered by the Spirit, not the development of human intellect. 

Another comment I heard came from a man who supervised hundreds of churches for his denomination. He made a comment about a small town pastor as the dear man walked by, “He’s a 50-person pastor.” At the time, I barely had 10 people in my new church plant. The supervisor judged the quality and impact of the man’s ministry based on the number of people he could draw on a Sunday morning, not the impact the man and his church were having in their community.

You could supply your own list of comments that do not carry the content of full truth. We toss these comments around making huge and inaccurate assumptions about life and people. Today, discern what you are repeating without processing its content. I have found some of the things I parroted over the years had no depth of wisdom in their broad-brush proclamation. I no longer repeat those half-truths.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Day After Pentecost

Yesterday, the Church all around the world gathered to celebrate Pentecost Sunday.  Pentecost was the day when the Spirit came in a sudden and unexpected demonstration of power. I try to examine what takes place after such events. I am not sure God wants us to think those powerful demonstrations had a single, isolated historic purpose. They happen because they are needed from time to time to correct our assumptions and shake up the status quo. This enables God to accomplish something through us not possible until a move of the Spirit pushes us off our spiritual lounge chair.

Immediately after the Day of Pentecost, we are told all the believers “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.” Chapter 2 ends by describing the deep sense of awe the early disciples were sensing as they saw the apostles perform signs, wonders, and miracles. They were sharing everything they owned, helped those in need and worshipped together each day. In that context of shared community, the Lord continued to add to their number daily. What we see happening after the miracles on the Day of Pentecost was the emergence of a structure that resembled a community of faith. 

Each generation needs a personal Pentecost in order to move forward. As a result of that experience, God invites to a process of restructuring. This is not a negative and controlling form of restructuring, but a minimal life-releasing structure like the one seen in Acts 2 that allows our plans to be interrupted and our current level of expectation to be challenged.  

Creating a structure for ministry before a demonstration of God’s power will always weaken the resulting expressions of the Church and diminish the effectiveness of our mission. As a result, following generations – the offspring of our current level of faith - will themselves create structures and systems that will not make room for the very thing needed to create healthy models of ministry and bring about the fulfillment of the Great Commission in their day. 

Today, don't search for a new model of ministry or a new structure before the Spirit comes. These premature manifestations will drain your strength and limit your Kingdom impact. Instead, pray a very dangerous prayer - dangerous to tired and lifeless expressions of faith. Pray, "Come, Holy Spirit, come!" What God brings in response to that prayer will contain the very encounter you will need to structure a community of faith that will literally change the world. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Flying High in the Wings of God's Presence

You know how it is when you wake up a bit too early in the morning and look at the illuminated clock on your nightstand. You hope you can go back to sleep.  This morning, the clock read 3:12 AM here in Oregon. In that waking moment, I saw an interesting image.

I saw a huge eagle flying at a very high altitude. It was scanning side to side gliding among thermals its wings strong and stationary. In the next moment, the eagle’s wing turned from feathers to clear glass. I saw inside the wing a person. They were lying down. Their head was positioned at the leading edge of the wing and their feet at the trailing edge. I got the impression the person was in this position because the eagle wanted them to see what the eagle was seeing. In the next moment, the feathered wing became clear like glass. The person was now able to see the terrain below just like the eagle. The look on the person's face was wonderment.

Some of you are experiencing significant times of transition. You know you are being “flown” somewhere, but you cannot yet see the destination. For you, it is like the Scripture says, “they will mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). Soon, you will be able to see where the Lord has been taking you. Some of this journey required that you simply trust the Lord and not know all the details. He did not let you see everything you had to fly over. He has brought you over huge obstacles impossible to transit without God's help. You were protected from those daunting images like the person flying inside a feathered wing just before it became glass. 

The feathers surrounding you are about to morph and become like clear glass. At that moment, you will be able to see how far God has brought you. Imagine what it will be like when that clarity comes! It will be like you are flying blind and in the next moment, you will realize you are literally flying thousands of feet above the surrounding terrain in a place of great clarity. When this happens, you will experience tremendous joy and awe. Your awe will come from the panoramic view you will have because everything will make sense when seen from a heavenly perspective. Your joy will come because early in the journey you did all you could and then you chose to rest in the wings of God's presence even though you did not understand all that was taking place. Resting in His presence and trusting in God’s goodness became the vehicle of passage for your journey of faith. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Performing for Love

Each time we perform to feel loved we deform love's beauty. In our performance, we become a slave to a conditional form of false love that Jesus came to set us free from. 

Performance is subtle. It can masquerade as religious dedication but when you begin to peel back its layers you will discover it is the thinking of a slave still living in bondage. Faithfulness and healthy obedience is something different. It flows from an understanding of the love of God in its purest form – a love that can only be received, not gained through performing to a certain standard. This understanding comes when we realize we can do nothing to gain God’s love. It is a gift. We can only receive it. The beauty and effect of this kind of love will change the quality of our earthly relationships.

Examine your relationships to see which ones require your performance to maintain. This can be a fearful examination but the outcome is so freeing. Until we are healed of a deformed understanding of love we will continue to invite performance-based relationships into our lives or seek them out to fill an empty place in our heart that only the unconditional love of God can fill.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Unraveled Plans

When a life plan begins to unravel, God knows how to reweave all the disconnected parts into something better. 
When a well-thought plan begins to unravel, our first response can be to grab all the frayed ends and try to put them back together again. I want to suggest that unraveling is not always a bad thing. Sometimes God will allow a process to unravel so he can reweave the elements back together into something stronger. 
Our transition can become so planned and well executed that at some point we stop exercising faith. We end up going with the flow of the plan and fail to yield our lives in faith each day. 
None of us likes things to come undone. It feels uncomfortable and disorganized. God is bigger than these scenarios. Give him your frayed and disconnected ends. Watch him begin to weave the plan back together. When he is done, he will hand the tapestry back to you stronger and more beautiful than it was before the problems arose. 
 (An excerpt from the book, A Good Place)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Ride on a Donkey

I write the following knowing the unease it can create, especially since it is so easy to put our hope in a political process. The Lord gave me an image of Him riding in Washington, DC atop a donkey. The image of a donkey represents the Democrat Party in the United States. A similar image could also apply to the Republican Party represented by the image of an elephant. To be true to what the Lord revealed, I want to stay on script with the original image.

I saw the Lord seated upon the back of a donkey as He rode into our nation’s capital. As the image unfolded so did an interpretation for what I was seeing. God is preparing to surprise those on both sides of our strident cultural divide. He will reveal He is able to impact human hearts through a process of unexpected and unimagined transformation. Through dreams, visions, and visitations from the Lord, some individuals awakened by these encounters will no longer feel comfortable continuing to vote in lockstep with the demands of a political party platform. Instead, they will follow the leading of the Lord and join Him as He rides into Washington. Human politics will be exchanged for Kingdom-focused transformation. As I said earlier in my opening comments, this applies to both parties and all those in between.

As you walk through our over-heated social and political climate, invite God’s Spirit to come and lead you with the wisdom from above. Only God's wisdom has the answers to the challenges we currently face.  In some cases, unlikely allies will walk alongside elephants and donkeys that will carry the presence of Jesus into the institutions of our culture. These are the people God will use to fill our current cultural and political divide with solutions not possible when our agenda, and not the Lord, is riding atop our worldview.

Everything Changes When the Lord Stands Up

Like a bully who enters a room and seems to tower over everyone with a threatening demeanor, so it is when hell walks into your life and tries to intimidate you. The bully’s tactics can work if we face the battle in our own strength. There is always a different outcome when we rely on the Lord.

In Isaiah 33, the Assyrian army had surrounded Jerusalem. To the natural eye, it appeared that Jerusalem would soon be destroyed. They were outnumbered and overwhelmed at the size and intimidation of the enemy army. Right when it seemed like they would face certain defeat, the Lord sent one warring angel – only one! Overnight that single angel entered the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers of the largest army of the greatest empire in the known world at the time. The next morning when the rest of the army awoke and saw their camp filled with corpses, King Sennacherib ordered his army to break camp and return home to Nineveh. The text in 2 Kings 19 says, “He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.”

Isaiah wrote about that incident and uttered a prayer, “When you have finished your work of destroying, you will be destroyed, and when you have completed your betrayal, you will be destroyed. 2 ‘Yahweh, be gracious to us, for we wait for you. Be our strength every morning and rescue us when troubles come. 3 The nations retreat at the sound of your roaring voice. The nations scatter as you arise in your majesty’” (Isaiah 33: 1-3) TPT).

What caught my attention was the last part of verse 3, “The nations scatter as you arise in your majesty.” Just like a foolish bully enters a room and assumes he can beat down anyone in the room by bellowing out his threats, so it was with the Assyrians and so it will be with any spiritual bully who is currently challenging you. When you feel surrounded and defeat seems imminent, everything changes when a more powerful One rises to his feet and roars His challenge in the face of your bully. 

The meaning of Isaiah 33:3 provides unique insight for us as we engage in spiritual warfare. Isaiah wrote, “The nations scatter as you arise in your majesty." This literally means, “when the Lord stands up.” When the Lord stands up and speaks, the battle is won. This is our greatest confidence in a place of spiritual battle. As the enemy continues to shout and flex his might in your situation, choose to wait in patient hope. The Lord is about to rise and confront your enemy, and like the Assyrians, they will return home and stay there. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Recirculated Lives

Over the years, friends have given me unique gifts from antiquity. The coin and the frame in which it is displayed sit atop a bookshelf in our living room. There have been times in the last 20 years when I stopped to look at the coin and wondered through whose hands the coin might have passed.

Just this morning, I stopped and wondered that same thing again. This time I heard the word “recirculation.” Just as a coin will recirculate over time to arrive in unexpected hands somewhere in the future, so it is with some experiences and relationships we will have in the course of our lives. When the Roman coin was first minted, the future in which it would travel could not have been imagined by a first-century Roman citizen. So it is with our relationships and life experiences. When these things were first encountered in our history they had a different meaning and context compared to how they will be perceived and interpreted in our future.

I am sensing God is about to recirculate things from our past and bring them into our present. There is a purpose in this recirculation. When encountered they will have a greater value today than when we first experienced them in our past. They will become cherished and displayed as something unique and valued. They will also affirm the goodness of God – the God who increases value in all things over time. Don’t be surprised when God has someone or something from your past return to your present to assume a place of value and honor. This is how God works. His timing creates new value in old things.

Today, I am having lunch with an old friend I haven’t seen in years. Like two old coins, it will be fun to hear where our lives have taken us over the years as God has circulated each of us through various assignments in His Kingdom.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

When Division Has Purpose

Yesterday, I saw in my spirit an image I think might describe some of what is taking place in the Church. I saw the image of a single cell like I was viewing it under the intense magnification of a microscope at the moment the cell first divided and became two cells. The two cells were not divided to become two separate entities. In their division, they remained within the same organism. Future health and expression involved a process multiplication. Their continued development required they separate and become two, then four, and then eight and so on. The division and separation was a process that allowed the development of something that could not yet be seen.

Under very close observation we discern only the division of the single cell, not the larger organic whole being created. This is true in biology and it is true in our understanding of God and the Church. While the basics of our doctrine and theology must remain intact or we will not have biblical faith, there is so much more that must divide in order to grow.

Today, be careful about the over-intense magnification of a particular issue before you understand the larger image that is being formed. We live in a time of “experts” and proponents of a single cell understanding of faith. This creates a concept of God and His Kingdom that is overly-simplistic and leads to bondage. Jesus addressed this issue. 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23: 23-24).

Faith is not rigid. It can uncomfortably multiply without our permission under the influence of the Spirit and move the mission of the Church outside our current microscopic understanding. It is important to continually invite God to expand our vision. Faith never parks. The expanding expression of the Church is always multiplying beyond our current level of comprehension. 

We are being called by God to expand our field of vision in order to see something larger He is doing. If we fail to heed this call, we will continue to defend a single cell theory of faith and become suspicious of anything new taking place outside our current field of view and our current level of understanding.