Return to Kingdomology and the Kingdom.

Return to Kingdomology and the Kingdom.

I’m back. Recently I finished a Summer Social Media Sabbatical and am returning to the blog. So how was the break, Steve? Well, I’m glad you asked. The first few weeks were hard. However, the disconnect soon became a healthy flow of life. Now, as I’m back in the regular rhythms, I’m finding that my distractions, especially seasons of getting hot and bothered by politics, have simmered down quite a bit. It’s freeing. I can focus more easily.

I know some are called to the political arena. In the Bible, we see this of Joseph in Genesis and of Daniel, the prophet. But I don’t believe I’m either equipped or called personally to politics. More importantly, this unplugged season reminded me of what I know internally; the Kingdom of God rules above the realms of humanity, and there will indeed be a day of reckoning.

The Kingdom of God? It’s something quite mysterious and profound. Indeed, it’s more than casual Christianity.   Clearly, it is beyond a religion of mere sin management. It is infinitely more. Jesus used this terminology as a central building block in his teaching. Yes, he came deliberately to give his life as a ransom for many. However, his preeminent proclamation is a wholly transformed reality.

In his first public teaching, Jesus declared with authority: “The time has come the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent and Believe the Good News.” (Mark 1:15). The original grammar of that statement is in the perfect tense, implying something that has happened and is continuing to happen. The title, Kingdom of God, is used some 75 times in the New Testament with the highest concentration being in Luke, who wrote to Gentiles. The secondary term, the Kingdom of Heaven, is only used 34 times in the New Testament, with 31 of those occasions being in Matthew, who wrote to Hebrews, showing them that Jesus was the prophesized Messiah.

Is there more than a history lesson here? There is more than you can imagine. Yes, this mysterious Kingdom that Jesus spoke of is a present reality and a future hope. The Kingdom is not one of flesh and blood or the politics of Jerusalem. It is a current reality wherever his children work his will out today. In Luke 17:21, Jesus described it as being within you. There is also the reality of the future, fulfilled Kingdom of his second coming.

Beyond the reality of God’s will being executed by his people in the here and now, the Kingdom also demonstrates the truth that God is still moving in His sovereign providence above the affairs of humanity. Even this morning, in my regular Bible reading, I noted that “the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice” of the enemies of King David, and thus they failed to overthrow God’s plan. There is a mysterious ebb and flow of our free will and God’s providential path toward the fulfillment of everything. Daniel observes that God “deposes kings and raises up others” while Jesus confronted Pilate, who thought he had charge over him, that he “would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

There is hope because God is still on the throne today. Yes, on the one hand, I live as a responsible citizen, as Romans 13 teaches me. But, on the other, I know my higher allegiance is above, and it is from there that my ultimate redemption comes. This dual existence calls me to stand for Jesus regardless of what earthly and temporal authorities do. It also comforts me to know God will have the final say when the curtain of eternity falls upon all.

I am not the first in history to wrestle with this reality and often think of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was hung at Flossenbuerg concentration camp just a month before the conclusion of World War II in Europe. Scripture does teach us that we are to obey the laws of the land unless they specifically contradict God’s will. However, I am rarely forced to disobey God in the West and in America. While governance has and may oppose Christ, I am not prohibited from preaching Christ.

The answer is to remember what I say I believe. The call, above worldly citizenship, is living out the Kingdom of God in the here and now. While it’s easy to type this today, I know there will be occasions when I am tempted to lose focus. I may need the help and prayers of friends. I may need your help. But I know this Kingdom is true. That’s why I named this blog kingdomology back in 2009, and I hope this will be a challenge and encouragement to you as well.

Is this an area where you wrestle?

 

 

Who Said That?

Who Said That?

I’m not sure when or why we started calling him Sir Rob.  I mean he’s not British and as far as I know the Queen has not knighted him.  But Sir Rob just kind of feels like a knight. He’s ex-military and a tough guy but yet carries an air of nobility and wisdom with him that makes you feel like you’re talking with someone in the English Parliament. Except of course when he’s making jokes and swimming in dry humor.  Which I suppose is a lot of the time. But still, Sir Rob just fits.

I also don’t recall when I first heard him pose the question.  I’ve heard it a lot though.  Another one of my friends gets down on himself and begins a degradation process. You know; the “I’m an idiot” type talk.  I’ve done that. Maybe you have.  But right after my friend told himself how bad he was Sir Rob followed up with the question of; “really, who said that?”  In other words, who said he was an idiot, failure, or other? (more…)

God’s Creation and The Future Kingdom.

God’s Creation and The Future Kingdom.

A HUGE thanks goes out to the anonymous folks at C4 who gave us a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.  I told Ronda, our admin, that I was probably more relaxed after a few days into the sail than I’ve been in 10 years or so. It was a good time to decompress and just celebrate our marriage commitment and also God’s creation.  For those who live in the Houston area; the ocean water really does turn blue once you get a few miles out from Galveston.  It was incredible to see and experience the colors of the sea, sky, greenery and animals of Cozumel and Progreso.

But beyond that, it was amazing to see the international makeup of the crew on the ship that carried us on our anniversary adventure.  I had heard of cruises like this before.  The complement of the crew was comprised of people from all over the world. Western and Eastern European nations.  Russia and Slavic nations.  People from the UK, Australia, and South Africa.  Countries from Asia, South America, and other were all represented. (more…)

The New Hampshire Caucus and The Kingdom Cause.

The New Hampshire Caucus and The Kingdom Cause.

Here I go again.  It was 6:45 last night and I “just had” to check online to see who was leading the pack in the second caucus of the 2016 race.  There’s nothing wrong with having an interest in politics or even entering the political ring.  The problem for me though is that sometimes it just gets too tempting.  I want to raise the black flag and dive into the fight with such intensity that I forget my focus on the real and eternal answers.

While I tend to lean toward a more conservative Republican bent, the fact of the matter is that neither major political party has it all right.  They both have some huge things going for them but neither one really possess a corner on the market of truth. (more…)

Flacco, Kaepernick, and Kingdom Leadership.

We’re just a few days away from Superbowl XLVII and I’ll probably watch the match even though neither my favorite team nor quarter back is in the game.  If nothing else, I’m sure there’ll be at least one good million dollar commercial in the mix.  But in thinking about these and other great teams, I’m reminded of another great leadership pointer we can learn from this spectacular sport.  The lesson being that it’s really not all about the quarterback.  Both Flacco and Kaepernick are great players, but the thing about them and other leaders on the gridiron is that the QB rarely makes the touchdown. Rather, they hand off or pass the ball to someone else.  It’s that person who takes the ball across the line and puts the points up on the board.  The truth about authentic Christianity and the true CHURCH is that we are all involved in a team effort.  In the CHURCH, leaders are not to “do the work of ministry” but to equip the Saints for “doing the work of ministry.”  The immediate context of Ephesians 4 refers to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, but the principal is the same in every leadership situation.  So whatever your leadership responsibility is, make sure your hand offs and passes are right.  Get the ball into the hands of others so that the team can advance the ball.  Let them carry the ball across the line and put the points up. Let them celebrate the victories and simply be excited that they and the team won the day.

So, who are you pulling for in this game?  More importantly, who are you equipping in your life to carry the ball across the line?