Saturday, September 26, 2020

Something Has Been Birthed

This morning, Jan said to me, “Something has been birthed.” Around our house, that means the Spirit brought something into our realm that was not present before the birthing process took place.  This process has been very uncomfortable on many levels. Just like it is in the natural, a delivery is intense and fatiguing. At the height of the pain, it can also be disorienting. 

What you have been feeling for months was not the norm of your life pre-pregnancy. You have questioned yourself at times, wondering if something was wrong with you and how you have been feeling. While a pregnant mother can't forget that she is carrying a child in her womb, many of us can forget we are carrying a promise. We forget that a delivery requires a season of gestation and development. We may not have a physical belly bump, morning sickness, or crazy food cravings. However, we can manifest similar issues spiritually and assign our confused feelings to other areas of our life, especially if we have forgotten we are pregnant and carrying a developing promise. 

 

This reminds me of a movie I saw a long time ago. The title slips my mind. In the movie, a young woman was in a war zone nine months pregnant. In the heat of battle, with bombs going off and bullets flying everywhere, she had to stop and give birth to her child in the rubble of the conflict. Her context reminds me of what is taking place in our culture at this moment in our history. 


We all want the birthing of our promise to happen in a clean, calm, and secure environment, but that is not how things happen when conflict surrounds our lives. The promise God has destined for birthing in your life at this time may be delivered in the heat of battle, not in a place of peace and security. This is not a time to worry. Focus on the birthing. God was faithful to keep the promise alive and growing in your life even when you forgot it was there, and He will be faithful to see it through to its final delivery. Trust Him. He has been making these kinds of deliveries since Eden. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Our Pursuing God

While pursuing God is of utmost value after we become aware of His presence and give our lives to Him, we need to remember it was His pursuit of us that initiated our relationship with Him in the first place. 

Scripture is filled with examples of God’s pursuit of people. Jesus met Paul on the Damascus Road. The Lord called out to young Samuel in the night. Moses heard his calling spoken from within a burning bush. Jesus asked 12 unlikely men to leave behind what was known to follow Him into an undefined future. 


What if the politician we have been told to hate or the violent rioter for whom we might have deep disgust, all of a sudden, were met by our pursuing God? Would we have the capacity in our faith to believe, or would we struggle as the Early Church did with Paul’s conversion?  Our problem is exacerbated when we continually listen to or read opinions from voices that do not believe in redemption, only condemnation. The sights and sounds coming through our computers, smartphones, and televisions are continually confirming and validating our limited understanding of God's love, especially as we move deeper into the current Presidential election cycle and the possible confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice.

 

God pursued all of us who now know Him. Without His pursuit, we would not have a relationship with Him. The Lord is actively pursuing all those we gave up on and those we might now call enemies of the good. Dismissal, in any form, is never the heart of God. It shuts the door on the possibility of hope and reveals that we do not fully understand the transforming power of God’s love. 


Only God has the final say on what is taking place in the heart of another person, no matter what the evidence of their life might display. His pursuing love is always greater than the dismissals and negative proclamations we issue when someone does not measure up to our standard of what is right.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

We Didn't Know Better

Toward the end of my mother’s life, I sat down with her for three days and taped interviews about her life experiences. One topic that emerged during our conversation was the issue of race relations. My mother grew up in the deep South during the 20s and 30s. 

My grandfather left the family during the Depression to seek work and never came home. As a result, my grandmother was forced to live alone in the South as a divorced woman. The divorce created a stigma for my grandmother, mother, and her brother. My grandmother was forced to open a boarding house to survive. My mom grew up with one pair of shoes that she wore to church and school. The rest of the week, she ran barefoot with her black friends. 

 

In the late 30s, my mom had become a local actress and dancer. As her career began to gain traction, she eventually traveled to Hollywood to seek a career in film. That career did not develop as she hoped, so she opened a restaurant in Los Angeles not far from Angelus Temple, where she would listen to Aimee Semple McPherson preach. Little did she know that someday in the distant future, one of her sons would become a Foursquare pastor.

 

On the train ride from Louisiana to California, my mother would learn a valuable life-lesson. About midway across the country, a black man boarded the train and sat in the same compartment as my mother. After a few moments, she got up and talked with the conductor. She noted, “Sir, a black man is sitting in our train car.” The conductor smiled at the unrealized ignorance of my mother and said, “Young lady. This is the West. Life is different here.”

 

When my mother shared that story with me, she said, “We were so ignorant then. We didn’t know better.” In all my growing up years, I never heard my parents use a racial epithet or slur. The correction of my mother’s worldview that began on a train ride many years ago would become a valuable gift that is still bearing fruit in our family. 

 

Like my mother’s experience, we all live in insulated bubbles of a perceived reality until our bubble is popped. When our bubble pops, hopefully, we will be able to see the reality other people must face each day that we did not realize was there when our ignorance blinded our eyes. Ignorance uncovered is a blessing only if it helps us see others in a new light, and with that resurrected sight, return to our own lives and make needed adjustments in our perspective. 


At some point in our life, all of us will come to realize we could have known better on a wide variety of topics. The lesson my mother learned that day on the train changed her life forever, and it became a life-lesson she passed on to her two sons. We can all be involved in a lifelong process of learning if we are willing to learn something new. Hopefully, in that process of learning, we will all come to know what is better.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Thin Blue Line

Most of you who read what I write each day know that for nine years, I worked in law enforcement. I served in two different agencies in both California and Oregon. Police work is like military service. Once a cop, always a cop. To this day, I still slow down when I see an officer on a car stop making sure they are OK. I would intervene if an officer ever needed my help. 

The vast majority of our population has thankfully never experienced gross forms of violence. Gross violence, the kind that tears flesh and destroys life, remains an unknown experience to the majority of our population. As a cop, I saw the worst one human being can do to another, some of it is absolutely unimaginable to the uninitiated. For many people, the most violent thing they have ever been involved in is a shouting match or a brief fistfight in a schoolyard. 

 

What stands in the way of gross violence prowling our streets in greater freedom is what is called “the thin blue line.” The " thin blue line " is a term that refers to the concept of law enforcement officers as the last line of defense that keeps society from descending into violent chaos. If that line ever evaporates, none of us would ever get another restful night of sleep or drive to our local grocery store without worrying about our safety.

 

Every day, law enforcement officers transact an estimated one million interactions with civilians. If you do the math, the overwhelming majority of those interactions are peaceful and respectful. Still, some lawless individuals try to cross over the thin blue line and are met with necessary force. Sadly, there are a few times when innocent people get killed by cops we should never have hired, let alone carry a weapon. Those are few and far between when compared to the vast majority of good cops. It is not a perfect process.

 

Be careful to which side of the thin blue line you attach your emotions and allegiance. There is an ignorant and uninformed spirit prowling social media and our news outlets that wants you to believe all cops are bad and need to be done away with, leaving the protection of society to social workers and counselors. While social work and counseling are admirable professions that should be part of good policing, they are not able to establish and defend the thin blue line of resistance that keeps violent individuals from taking over society. 

 

“For government is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God's servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong” (Romans 13:4).

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Staying in Our Land and Making It Beautiful

Today, I went shopping for a few ingredients for my crab mac n' cheese recipe. In the parking lot, I ran into a friend of ours who lives in our neighborhood. As friends do, we talked about life, and the subject of what I was preparing for lunch came up. Our friend said she would love to eat my crab mac n' cheese, but some of her chronic health issues would not allow her such freedom. 

Our conversation shifted to making the most of life's challenges, specifically regarding food and eating things that agree with our constitution. It was at that point I said, "It is always good to stay in our lane and make it as beautiful as possible." I was referring to making the places of our limitations as beautiful as we could and, in the case of a menu, as tasty as our dietary limitations would allow. Our friend walked away, smiling. I headed home to the kitchen.

Perhaps my off the cuff slogan, "Stay in our lane and make it beautiful", is sage advice for all of us. None of us can run in all the lanes that life offers, but we can find our lane and make it as beautiful as possible. If we can do that, our culture might make the shift we have all been hoping for.

Reading Our Bias Into Another Person's Life

It never ceases to amaze me (and I admit, at times, it can frustrate me) how easily some people can read into something I wrote or said and allow their bias to be the interpreter of my intent. Our bias is a powerful filter that can cause us to interpret the purpose of others in a way the person being accused or challenged never intended.

 

We live in a world where our ability to offer quick and unfiltered responses to others is readily available.  It can happen on social media or when hearing a passing comment made during a casual conversation. We do this without pausing and asking ourselves if our corrective confrontation is valid based on what the other party meant to say, or is it just our bias talking. 

 

We live in strange times made even more bizarre when people read into our content and attempt to reinterpret our words through the filter of their emotionally-driven bias. It makes me chuckle at times, causing me to respond, “Come on, really?”. It’s like predicting who will win an election. You have a 50/50 chance to be a “prophet.” These situations can be amusing at times, and on other occasions, they can be distressing. 


I would suggest taking a humorous posture when these things transpire.  It will keep you emotionally, and spiritually sane as the levels of social insanity continue to ramp up, and our biases are given free rein to run ahead of our integrity. 

 

  

Monday, September 21, 2020

Help From Above

This morning, when I finished reading the following verse, I sensed the Lord wanted to say something. “When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16). 

We are entering a moment in our history when against natural odds and predictions, God will reach into the affairs of our nation and adjust the course of our history. The world will take notice, and so will the Church. We will experience the supernatural help of God in our time of greatest need. Posture yourself in faith to believe the goodness of God will prevail in the end.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Debris of Undisciplined Opinion

I listened to an interview with an astronomer who said every day the Earth is bombarded with 100 tons of dust and sand-sized particles, remnants of space rocks that exploded when entering our atmosphere. There is another kind of bombardment taking place – the unrestrained bombardment of undisciplined opinion.

Perhaps the most impactful fruits of the Spirit being manifest at this time are patience and self-control. In frustration at the level of unrighteousness and deception rampant in our culture, there have been times when I was prepared to lash out and bombard my world with the depths of my frustration. Then I realized I would have lost my voice, not the sound, but its impact. 

 

Wisdom weighs the content of what it speaks by the scales of Heaven before it allows its words to enter the atmosphere of culture and relationships. Wisdom pauses long enough to allow the Spirit to intervene and thwart the hijacking of its voice from an untimely release. Wisdom refuses to become just another piece of falling social space debris used to support the chorus of undisciplined and angry voices that failed to weigh the substance and timing of their rant. 

 

This continual bombardment of opinion changes nothing. It is only dust and, in the course of history, will have become an unrecognizable deposit of debris just like the 100 tons of space rock grit that entered our atmosphere yesterday unnoticed.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

God Will Help Us Succeed

We are in a time like that of Nehemiah, a man called by God to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem. Behind the scenes and without the permission of potential dissenters, Nehemiah rallied allies and began the project as doubting eyes looked on. 

When his plan was finally discovered,  Nehemiah explained why he was taking on the project and why it would be successful.

 

“Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, 'Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!' So, they began the good work” (2:18). 

 

Like those who initially thought reconstructing the walls was an impossible task, it only took a single word of hope to turn the tide. All creative work begins with an expression of hope.

 

To the natural eye, our culture may appear headed for disaster and social collapse. Still, for those with ears to hear the word of the Lord and vision to see God’s plan for restoration, this is a season of tremendous opportunity.

 

Reformers and restorers do not work from consensus. They work from revelation. Put aside the doubt and fear that has been deposited in your heart and mind and open your thinking to the possibilities of Heaven's environment being expressed on Earth. 


Against impossible odds, Nehemiah carried with him a victorious word of hope. He spoke that word to the listening crowd, “The God of heaven will help us succeed” (2:20). That is our hope as we venture into our culture to rebuild the broken walls of our nation and the broken walls of human hearts. God will help us succeed.

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Not Overwhelmed

Events are amassing on a global scale that could become a historic moment of transition. In August, I could sense a gathering of these events taking place. At that time, I wrote a blog post about something called Singularity. Singularity is a moment when seemingly disconnected events happen simultaneously with such rapidity; the human mind perceives them as a single event. As these events take place in unison, an unprepared mind could become overwhelmed.

In the middle of the wildfires, hurricanes, Covid-19 issues, and an upcoming election where in some quarters dire predictions of social unrest are predicted no matter who wins, we can forget that a broader global context is transpiring. Just this morning, I read a note from a friend who is a missionary in Asia. He said China is on the verge of famine. My friend said sources within the nation revealed the government is demanding its citizens to reduce food consumption by a third. Nervous countries take desperate actions to survive, not only with their citizens but with surrounding nations and beyond.

 

Perhaps at no point in my lifetime have I seen such a need to prepare the equivalent of a spiritual and emotional go-bag. Like a go-bag in the natural, that is light and mobile and only contains the very basics needed to live during short seasons of displacement due to a natural disaster, so it is with a spiritual go-bag. 

 

Today, before the possibility of a life-altering moment of global singularity could become a reality, gather with those you love and prepare your go-bag of faith. Keep it simple. If anything does not meet the standard of loving God and loving people, leave it behind. Any excess items will only slow you down when you need to move at the speed of faith while following the leading of the Spirit.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Gracious Hand of God

Five times in the book bearing his name, Ezra is described as having the “gracious hand of God” upon him.  Ezra and the Israelites would need to know God's hand was on them when they returned to Palestine after being exiled in Babylon. The hand of God gave Ezra an audience before a king, provision for his needs, and protection for the dangerous journey. Ezra moved forward with his life-calling because he knew the gracious hand of God was upon him. 

As a child of God, you have the same gracious hand on your life that was upon Ezra. No matter where you are or what you are going through, God’s hand of favor is on your life and making a way for you to move forward into the future. 


The gracious hand of God upon your life releases the favor you will need to open doors into a future you thought was impossible. Knowing God's hand is upon your life is where the courage will come that will be needed for the journey set before you.  You can trust in the faithfulness of His touch.

 

Thankful and Grateful

In southern Oregon, 2,357 homes have been lost at last count, due to wildfires. With an average occupancy rate of 2.5 persons per household for our state, that is 5,892 people without a place to call home. Today, I thanked God for a roof over my head, the availability of a hot shower, and a warm bed. The best things in life are always the most simple. Thank God for the simple things.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sheltering in Place

At some point, in this over-heated social atmosphere, we have to bar the door and shelter in place. It is a sheltering just like teachers are advised to do when an active shooter is roaming through the halls of a school looking for victims. The sheltering in place is emotional and spiritual. 

Conflict, confrontation, and division are the current shooters roaming the halls of our culture looking for their next victim. They are armed with weapons designed to rip through the fabric of our being and destroy our soul if we offer them a target. 

Today, bar the door to your life and let nothing in that is not offered by God. Press close to those you love and embrace each of them. That shared embrace is the only safe place while the world is under assault. While pain and sorrow are rampant may our hope remain intact.


 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Avoiding Unnecessary Conflict

This is a difficult time in our culture, and it has become a dangerous time as well. People are becoming increasingly frustrated, angry, and prone to violence. Be careful how you respond to the emotional responses of people, even on social media. Your well-being may depend on it.

It was a typical night on patrol many years ago. I was a one-man sheriff’s patrol unit working the streets of Cupertino, California. About midnight, I pulled over a car for a traffic violation. The stop was made in a dark and isolated place at the edge of an orchard. As soon as both our vehicles stopped moving, the occupant of the car I pulled over, quickly swung open his door and charged back toward me on a dead run. 


On each car stop I ever made, I had my door open before my patrol unit stopped rolling.  I was already out of my unit standing by my vehicle when the man began his charge.

 

As he ran toward me, I drew my nightstick and took a defensive stance, anticipating a physical altercation. As he got close, he stopped and yelled at me, “What are you going to do with that, hit me?” I said, “Yes, unless you back off, NOW!” He finally backed off, and after a few moments trying to explain my reaction to his action, he refused to be reasonable. l issued him a citation along with a word of advice should another officer ever stop him. At no point in my interaction with the man did he see the error of his ways. He drove off as angry as when I first stopped him.

 

Tempers are short in our culture, and emotions are thin. Some online and in personal conversations are beginning to look and sound a lot like the angry man who charged me on the car stop. If you are one of the angry ones charging every opinion that is different from yours, you might not realize the jeopardy you are creating for yourself and those you love. Dial it back before it gets out of hand. No opposing opinion will ever be changed by unbridled rage. 


"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" (James 1:19).

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Fair Wind of God's Spirit is Coming

We are in the middle of a climate change – a change in the climate of our culture. This climate change is stirring up winds that will move us past our current reality pushing aside the fog of deception. This wind is beginning to blow across our nation, steering us away from the headlands of false promises and the shallow waters of overreaction. The common sense of the common man and woman is about to take the helm of our vessel, aligning our course with the wind of God’s Spirit.  Under an adjusted course heading provided by the Master Mariner’s navigational map, we will steer away from the shoals of failure and despair and turn our course toward the wide-open sea of a flourishing future. Stand at Heaven’s helm alongside the Lord and look toward the horizon with hope. The climate is changing. Fair winds are coming.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Redefining God

Over the last several decades in western culture, some have attempted to redefine God. The isolated halls of academia and a culture living insulated from much of the sorrow that afflicts the rest of the world has been a seedbed for this process of progressive redefinition. At the end of this process, an idol will stand before us, an idol forged by a misguided view of God formed apart from His word.

Some of these redefinitions sound appealing until they begin to stumble over Scripture. One example floating around and gaining some traction is the idea that when Jesus rose from the dead, all humanity was saved. We are told we no longer have to worry about the response of people to the Gospel since everyone will eventually end up in Heaven. After all, they say, the God we created would not have it otherwise. This version of God has no consequences attached to human action or inaction. Again, it sounds good until the Scripture gets in the way.

 

In the issue of personal salvation, words like “believe,” “receive,” and “accept” cause these redefiniions to stumble. John 1:12 is one example, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” All relationships require an invitation and a commitment. For those of us who have married, an invitation of matrimony was offered and accepted before we could enter into the life-long commitment of marriage. Love requires the exercise of our will.

 

When Jesus walked the earth, there were no altar calls or sinner’s prayers, but there was a point in each person’s life when they yielded themselves to the invitation of Jesus to receive the life He offered. There is a lot of freedom of expression offered in the exercise of our faith. But that freedom never lessens the importance of the exercise of our will when it comes to the offer of eternal life. 

 

In the days to come, those who actually take the time to read the Bible to understand its meaning and context, and remain teachable in the process, will be the ones who stay clear of the idols created by pop theology and the deceptions they produce. Even when we think we have it all figured out more revelation will come to challenge what we confidently thought was the truth, but sadly, was only an idol we created in the image of our limited understanding. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Taking Time to Fill Up

When I was a kid, whenever my dad would drive our family to a distant destination, before he pulled into a relative’s driveway or a camping spot for the night, he would find a gas station and top off his gas tank. As an impatient and tired kid, that seemed like a waste of time. It was only later as an adult that I learned the importance of his decision. If an emergency took place during the night, he could get his family out safely while others were still looking for a place to fill up. Responsible parents prepare and protect. To this day, I continue to follow my father's example.

Yesterday, I went into town to top off my pickup just in case we needed to evacuate because of the wildfires. I still had over half a tank left, and that could take us a long way, but I wanted to be full just in case. When I got to the gas station, cars were lined up 10-15 deep for each pump. I turned around and went back home. Later in the day, I noticed the station was closed. They were out of gas.


Today, I rode my bicycle into town and, along the way, I stopped to ask the station attendant when gas would be available. He was not sure. He said other gas stations in the vicinity were also out of gas due to the need created by the wildfires and evacuation preparation. I’m glad I can still hear my father's voice about being prepared and had enough gas to make it somewhere if an unexpected evacuation were to take place during the night.

 

There are times when some of us run our lives too close to empty, emotionally, and spiritually. We seem to get by on vapors until a real life-emergency comes, and we have nothing left to offer ourselves or anyone else who might depend on our personal preparation. 

 

The circumstances of your life may have drained your tank. Before you get into a situation that requires enough soul fuel to get you out of a personal danger zone, stop and take time to refill. This refilling can take on various forms. It might be a moment of pause to appreciate the dawn of a new day or being awakened at night and stepping outside to ponder the expanse of space. A favorite verse of Scripture spoken out loud in the middle of a stressful situation can displace fear. At times it is looking into the eyes of someone you love and lingering just a moment longer to see what a hurried life can miss. 

 

We can run on empty and even get away with it for a while, but eventually, we will become stranded in disappointment and disillusionment. Take time to fill your life with goodness and hope each day, and when the time comes, you will be able to get out of danger - something a drained and stranded life will not be able to experience.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Out of the Ruins Hope Will Rise

Of recent date, many of the painful and fear-producing things we have experienced have become a shock treatment to our familiar and assumed reality. A pandemic made an entire culture fearful and jumpy. Anarchy seems to have been given free rein by those entrusted with our security. Our divided nation has become encampments of narrow and entrenched opinions. And now for those of us out West, entire cities have been wiped off the map in a day. The only thing things remaining in these devastated communities are smoldering ruins and people who have lost hope. 

These issues have filled our minds 24/7. The shallow and sometimes foolish interpretations we had in the past regarding the stability of life got a quick and shocking reality check. In that on-going reality check, I have noticed a change in perspective taking place.

 

- Life has taken on new meaning and value.

- Cops are our friends, not our enemy.

- Politics will never be the answer to what ails us.

- Protecting loved ones in tangible ways took on new meaning.

- Neighbors became friends, rebuilding a new life together.

 

When this painful season ends, a new community ethic will emerge. People will have experienced God as a faithful and tender Father, not a complicated theology known only to an elite few. Simplicity will have retaken its rightful place as one of our most valued possessions because everything else will have failed the test. The brightness of our future will be reflected off that simplicity much like a veteran returning from conflict on foreign soil to embrace family, home, and friends in a new way. God will not waste the painful impact of these recent days if we choose to not waste our sorrows.

 

 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Strong Leaders

Strong leaders don’t wait for approval before they act for the good others. They do what they can to serve people in their moment of need and deal with the flak of dissenters later. Find this kind of leader and you will have found a leader with a heart after God.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Smell of Smoke

It is 2:00 a.m. as I write these words.  I awoke an hour ago to the strong smell of smoke. We have experienced smoke from forest fires before, but this was the strongest yet, almost like a billowing smoke warning us that fire was near. Since we are surrounded by forest, I was concerned. As I rustled in bed, Jan said, “I smell smoke.” Immediately I was out of bed trying to find the source.

After a few minutes of checking our property, I got in my truck and drove the roads around our home to see where the smoke was coming from. After about 30 minutes, I returned home. No flames in sight. We were officially “up,” so I put the coffee on and went through my mental checklist of evacuation plans just in case. I called the non-emergency number of our fire department. I was told no reports of a fire. All is well at this point. 

It is amazing how simple things get when you think you might have to evacuate and run for your life. In an emergency, my go-list is simple and prepared. Jan, our dog, a briefcase filled with important documents, a few survival resources, and out the door we would go if needed. I am ready. What I am not ready for is the unknown that would follow. That is in the Lord’s hands. 

If you had to do a spiritual or emotional evacuation with no time to spare, what are the essentials of your faith? Do you know where they are stored? Are they ready to go? While it can a bit disconcerting having to think through the basics of what you would need to take with you in a natural disaster, it is an important exercise to complete. It is also a valuable exercise for a believer if the familiar trappings of your faith are ever removed from your life. 

 

This morning, I am thinking about smoke, fires, and possible evacuation in the natural. Spiritually and emotionally, in this pandemic/riot/election crazy time, I have once again boiled my faith down to just the essentials - love God and love people. It keeps me mobile and unencumbered, able to move with the Spirit wherever He leads. As a result, I have defined what I need to live my faith on the run. That has been a refreshing and affirming exercise. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Moving at the Speed of Change

We currently have at our disposal the fastest vehicle of migration ever known to humanity: the Internet. We are moving at warp speed through time and space, exposed to differing worldviews and ideas previously isolated within a specific culture and not easily accessible on a global scale. 

Our current technology has migrated past the first generation (1G) of wireless technology, through the terrain of 2G, 3G, 4G, and now into 5G. 

Collective learning has even formed what is called the “global brain,” the collective intelligence of humanity. The global brain is collecting, storing, and retrieving data at blinding rates of speed. God is going to use this global brain to shift every sphere of culture—not by force but by a Spirit-directed process of influence that will lead to renewed ways of thinking across the world. 

Futurist David Houle wrote a book called The Shift Age. Houle said that in the twenty-year period of 2017 to 2037, we will experience more change than in any fifty-year period in human history. We are currently experiencing that shift—and it will accelerate the rate of our migration. 

With that kind of rapidity, we will need to continually redefine and streamline our message and mission. We need to be able to move alongside the increasing tempo of culture in order to remain relevant. That relevancy is not the result of compromising our ideals, ethics, or truth, but to better communicate our message. 

(Excerpt from “BEYOND: Exploring the Frontier of God’s Expanding Revelation” https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Exploring-Frontier-Expanding-Revelation/dp/0578634317/ref=sr_1_7?crid=1RVIWS0E0OO9S&dchild=1&keywords=garris+elkins&qid=1599478738&s=books&sprefix=Garris+Elkins%2Caps%2C227&sr=1-7

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Moving Forward Together

I used to read Psalm 133:1 differently than I do today. How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! I thought the verse meant we all had to come to an agreement on every point of our preferred theology and understanding of God’s Kingdom before we could move forward together. 

I took a closer at the text and discovered that moving forward together was not thinking alike about all things. The word “harmony” used in this verse has also been translated as unity, peace, and together.  The word paints a picture of believers with diverse opinions being able to move together in the calling of God not demanding agreement on every point of understanding before they were able to move together in unity. This is not a unity of opinion. It is a unity in the person of Jesus Christ. 

One of the most powerful witnesses of our shared unity is the honor and freedom we give each other to be different and not allow our personal opinions and interpretations to keep us from moving forward together in the calling of God. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Give Your Pastor a Gift

Tomorrow is Sunday. Give your pastor a gift. The gift is believing the best about them. Everyone has an opinion, and those opinions can go in a hundred different directions. Every pastor that I know tries to do their best to love God and serve people. Even on their best day, they will never be able to satisfy everyone all the time. Believing the best about your pastor will become a commitment to prayer, not to get them to see life or run the church in lockstep with your demands, but to strengthen and encourage them.

Friday, September 4, 2020

We May Have Missed Something

We have spent decades telling and re-telling followers of Christ who they are as believers and how to live a blessed life. Those are all necessary and good, but there is something we may have missed. 

Today, many in the Church know nothing of spiritual warfare, the exercise of spiritual gifts, and the reality of the demonic forces influencing the affairs of culture. It is no surprise we are seeing so much disorder and dysfunction manifesting in our nation. It is increasing throughout our land unchallenged by the only force able to stop its advance - the power of God's Spirit. 


Without this sounding like a blame fest, please interpret what I am writing as an invitation. God wants us to equip each believer to be able to contend with darkness by the supernatural empowerment of the Spirit that is available to all who believe but sadly can remain untaught and, therefore, unrealized. 

 

In some cases, for years people have listened to an abundance of sermons centered around self-improvement and self-awareness without ever being taught how to contend righteously with the works of hell. We are called to be interrupters of evil, not spectators hoping things will change.


The Church carries the destiny of each nation on Earth, and those destinies will be challenged at every turn by spiritual forces sent to abort the purposes of God. To see those destinies become a living reality will require a global army of people able to fight in the invisible spiritual trenches that are only visible and accessible by the power of the Spirit. The warfare strategy of these warriors will be the redemption of individuals and nations held in the grip of dark agendas. 


There is nothing nice about this kind of warfare. No one is riding on pink unicorns and releasing spiritual potpourri into the atmosphere, hoping things will change without engagement. The time is critical, and the battle is intense. Arm yourself appropriately with the weapons of spiritual warfare and take your place on the battle line.

Restoring Sight

I want to be able to see. I want to see people and life differently. I want to see what Heaven is revealing, not what has been prepared for me as a false vision with a less than honorable motive. I want to see what my brokenness has blinded me from seeing.


Throughout my life, I have tried to see the world and its inhabitants the way Lord sees them. The blindness that has kept me from this desired clarity has been painfully exposed in my most intimate of earthly relationships, my marriage. Over the last 47 years, I have gone into spiritual surgery on numerous occasions to remove the cataracts of my pride and impatience, and a whole host of other blinding agents. In each instance, once the scalpel of the Lord made its final cut, I entered a process of healing as Heaven's vision for my life came into focus, in some cases, for the first time.

 

As my healing progressed, images of God’s love not previously seen emerged and entered my field of vision. It is amazing what we can see when the blinding presence of self is cut away. 

 

Just yesterday, on a walk with Jan, another surgery began. Today, as I experience the healing process of yesterday’s surgery, I am looking forward to seeing with new clarity the beauty of what God is about to reveal. 


Perhaps a new vision, not another demand to see our expectations fulfilled, is what we all need to receive in order to migrate through this challenging season as an intact human being.  When this current despair and discontent has run its course, I don’t want to continue walking blindly forward as I did before and miss seeing the heart of God.

  

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Soul Space

Jan and I have a good friend, Bo Stern-Brady who has developed a ministry called Soul Space. Soul Space offers daily meditations (about 5 minutes in length) to help draw us closer to Jesus, nourish our souls, and shed some of the stress of life we picked up along the way. The ministry is done with excellence and Spirit-led integrity. Bo has included readings from some of Jan’s books of blessings. Take care and be well.

To find out more information, please go to the app store on your smartphone to access Soul Space or via your computer and connect at www.soulspace.com to sign up.

Walking in the Middle

There are times when walking down the middle of the cultural road between two noisy opinions is right where God wants His people to walk. This middle of the road approach can appear like a compromise to a religious spirit, but many times it is from that middle place that previously unknown options will appear. 

Walking this stretch of road can produce relational ostracization. It is also a dangerous place to walk. Both sides of an issue will be throwing stones of condemnation and accusation at your opinion because you fail to stand in full agreement in their immovable place of discontent. 

The Lord might ask us to walk in the middle of the road for a season because it will allow Him, the One who is the ultimate arbiter of truth, the time needed to inform and transform our outlook on life and eventually reflect His heart to the world, not our opinion or the opinion of others.



Softening the Impact of Life

 In 1939, my mother was engaged to my father. During their engagement, she bought my father a new shotgun. For the last 81 years, that shotgun has remained in our family. When my dad passed away, my brother was given dad’s Winchester Model 70 30-06, and I was given his Remington Model 31 12-gauge pump shotgun.

That old shotgun has lived under the protection of a trigger lock and has not been in use for many years. The rubber recoil pad on the end of the stock began to decay and crumble many years ago. I put off adding a new one since I no longer hunt like I used to. But just this week, I decided to take the shotgun to a local gunsmith to have a new recoil pad installed. When I handed the shotgun to the gunsmith, and he looked at the decayed recoil pad, smiled, and said, “That won’t work.” In the coming weeks, I will get a phone call to come and pick up the shotgun with a new recoil pad installed. The shotgun will be ready to hunt if I ever get the urge to go afield again.

 

The wear on the old shotgun’s receiver and barrel and its dented, yet beautifully seasoned old wood stock shows years of use. The marks and wear tell a story of a father and his two sons walking through cotton patches of the Central Valley in California, making a drive to flush pheasants. Of burger stands in a small town laughing while eating hamburgers, fries, and drinking chocolate milkshakes. They speak of riding in the back of a '59 Chevy pickup eating dust on some back road as our dad drove us to yet another spot to hunt while my brother and I drank a Royal Crown Cola and felt like little men.

 

My father’s shotgun reminded me of our lives. Most of us have lived a lot of life, and the wear of life shows up in varying ways. In the process of growing older, the recoil pad on our emotions can become thin, crumbled, and of no use. A spiritual gunsmith might look at the condition of our life and say, “That won’t work.” A healthy response to life no longer is taking place because we have lost our ability to insulate our response to the impact of unexpected change or harsh words that people speak. All of this is especially challenging when people and culture seem to be going crazy. 


Each of us needs to replace our emotional recoil pad from time-to-time. If we don’t, every unkind word or unwelcomed action will leave a bruise, and we will wince in pain at life each time something negative takes place instead of being able to absorb its impact, move on, and enjoy the hunt.

 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Real Source of Our Conflict

At this time, when so much emotion is swirling about, and when each person holds a passionate and immovable position, it is too easy to forget what is taking place. Death is manifesting its presence, and that manifestation is taking many forms. 


There is a spirit called Death. In the Greek language, he is known as Apollyon. In Hebrew, Abaddon. This spirit is defined as “Destroyer” and “the author of apocalypse.” The definition also includes “ruin, “destruction, “the minister of death,” and “the author of havoc on earth.” These definitions are sourced from a root word meaning “perish.”


The manifestation of Death is not always a final blow, shot, or verdict. It works like the proverbial frog in a kettle giving its dark mission time to misguide us leading us down a path of greater forms of deception and decay until, at last, something dies.

 

When peaceful protests for righteous issues are allowed to become riots that lead to anarchy and eventually death, death will have accomplished its goal.

 

Abortion, once a sad solution for an early-stage unwanted pregnancy, moved its demand for death to mid-term pregnancies, and now to the unimagined horror of late-term abortion.

 

Poverty created by disadvantage and dismissal of those living in the decaying inner cities of our nation has created generations who have only known loss and lack. This disadvantage and dismissal have brought the death-producing mindset of hopelessness to an entire family line.

 

A marriage that began in love and commitment ends in divorce. Death has a mission to destroy the oneness of the earthly image of Christ and the Church by removing reconciliation and forgiveness from the relationship.

 

When Jesus rose from the dead, He disempowered Death. The faith of the Church is built upon that victory. Our response to the resurrection of Jesus is to bring life in all its forms to our conversations and actions. Paul repeatedly preached a message about the implications of resurrection life because it is what empowers the Gospel message by disempowering the ministry of Death in all its forms. 

 

Many are praying against the byproducts of this spirit. There are many examples of these byproducts of Death, along with the ones I noted above. Praying against these manifestations is a good thing, but only if we recognize the root that is spawning such issues and giving them a place in our lives. 


Going to the root cause of the brokenness in our world - Death - will keep us from making enemies of those who are manifesting the byproducts of that dark spirit. It will also help us reevaluate our response to what agitates us and allow us an opportunity to define our real enemy.

 

  

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

The Focus of Our Hope

Habakkuk, the small book of prophecy seems to address where a believer can find themselves today as our culture continues to struggle. I read Habakkuk this morning and overlayed its content over the current season. It is a beginning-to-end portrait of faith in times of difficulty.

Regarding what we are seeing and feeling:

 

“How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence is everywhere!’ I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted” (Habakkuk 1:2-4).

 

Regarding what God has planned that we do not yet see:

 

“For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it” (1:5).

 

Regarding the delay of a promise and what to do in the waiting:

 

“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not delay” (2:3).

 

Regarding what attitude we should possess as life unfolds:

 

I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (3:18).

 

Regarding the end of all things:

 

“For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord” (2:14).

 

All of this, the pain, sorrow, and division we see taking place will be drowned by the increasing glory of the Lord. Everything will eventually be submerged in His presence. That should be the focus of our faith and where we place our trust.