They say it doesn’t exist, but I’ve been there.
As a matter of fact, I feel like I’m there now. While writing these words, I stare out across a piece of glass the locals call the Marmara Denizi (Sea of Marmara). I watch the sun set in a sky so blue it meets the water with a harmony that deceives the eye. It is impossible to see where the world ends and the heavens begin. It is as if I’m at the world’s end. No wonder the ancient Greeks of this land imagined floating off into the endless expanse of water and arriving at new worlds.
It is the first day of a new year, and you can tell by looking at social media. Twitter and Facebook are clogged up with quick motivational messages and reminders to make 2014 the best year of your life.
These messages may be sentimental, and some are spot on. However, a constant thread runs though most, and I am not convinced it is a good one.
We no longer know the difference between worth and ability.
I have a theory. Now mind you, it is just a theory, so perhaps I could be proven wrong. Nevertheless, here it goes:
Genuine thankfulness should result in contentment.
According to the commentators for the Macy’s parade yesterday, an estimated 45 million turkeys were consumed as families across the United States gathered to take part in our celebration of thankfulness. Families gathered around tables to feast, sat with family they had not seen since the holidays last year, and went around the table sharing about their thankfulness. But that begs the question, “Is this really thankfulness?” Continue reading
The questions we ask say a lot about who we are. Think about it for just a minute. Questions reveal concerns. We rarely ask questions about things that do not concern us. They expose our understanding of things. We have all sat in a classroom where someone raised there hand and asked a question only to reveal how incredibly little they understood about the subject at hand. Fact is, most all of us have been that person.
Furthermore, I am not so sure the old adage, “There are no stupid questions,” is all that true. Honestly, there are some really bad questions out there. Continue reading
“You must purge the evil from you” (Deut 24:7).
This is the constant refrain given in Deuteronomy. As Moses revisits the statutes set before Israel going into the promised land, he provides the above statement as grounding. However, it begs the question, “Why?” Why is it necessary for Israel to purge the evil in their camp?
Honestly, many of the practices Moses lays out when using this phrase appear overly harsh, even sadistic at times. For instance, “purging the evil” is given as the reason to stone a rebellious child or a woman who is discovered to not be a virgin when she gets married. In my mind, while these are both wrong, they are certainly not offenses worthy of death! Continue reading
The message of the kingdom is the mission of the church.
Over the last three posts, I have discussed the significance of the kingdom of God, pointed out some common misconceptions, and provided a rough description of this kingdom. The kingdom has already come in one sense, yet in another, it is waiting on its fulfillment. It is “already, but not yet.” However, it is clear in this time between the times that the church has a crucial role to play in the establishment of the kingdom. Continue reading
We were supposed to be stewards.
That is why we were created. In the very beginning, back when God made everything out of nothing, the pinnacle of that creation was man. Man was made in his image and was to rule in his stead. In essence we were stewards, entrusted with overseeing all that God had created. Our creation was intrinsically tied to responsibility. We were made with a task.
But we blew it.
In the fall, that responsibility was shattered, and the man created to steward God’s creation was put at odds with it. Our relationship with God and our relationship with all he had created was turned on its head.
The coming of the kingdom of God is the reordering of everything. All that was messed up will one day be made right, and it will happen through the person and work of Christ. When we speak of kingdom come, that is what we mean.
If you do not know what you are fighting for, you are bound to make mistakes.
In the last post, I talked about the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven, as the terms are interchangeable in the Bible). The term gets thrown around a lot. We Christian folk are always talking about “kingdom work,” “advancing the kingdom,” being “kingdom focused,” and the list goes on and on. Perhaps we see that it is important, or perhaps we think the word sounds cool. Whatever the case, we describe a lot of things as kingdom work without ever really defining our term. And in doing this, we have created some interesting definitions of the kingdom that are nowhere to be found in the Bible.
At the risk of offending sensibilities, I think it is perhaps best to consider first what the kingdom is not. Continue reading
Jesus is concerned about his kingdom.
It is pretty easy to agree with that statement if you read the gospel account of Matthew. The kingdom of heaven is possibly the most prevalent theme in the book, and is most often recorded off the lips of Jesus himself.
Yet, for most of us, the kingdom of God is a vague, confusing title we may not understand. When it is discussed, it either sounds so theologically stuffy that it is boring and unhelpful, or it is done so simply that it is vague and serves no real purpose. Instead, we must find a road between. Understanding the kingdom was a big deal to Jesus, so it must be pretty important. My hope in writing my next few posts is bringing the kingdom of heaven out of the clouds so that people who have never been to seminary can get excited about it too. Honestly, the idea is only as complex and boring as we make it. Jesus got excited about it, and so should we. Continue reading
The parable of the day laborers has always been difficult for me to comprehend. Perhaps I make it too hard. More precisely, perhaps I do not like what it teaches.
In chapter 20 of his gospel account, Matthew retells a parable that Jesus told. In this parable a landowner goes out to find day laborers for his vineyard. At the beginning of the day, he hires men for an amount of money they all agree upon. Several hours later, he goes out and finds more men. He does this again, and again, and again. At the very last hour of the day, he goes and finds a few more men and hires them.
Now, as the day is finishing, it is time for the payout. The men line up to receive their money, and the foreman walks up to those who had only worked an hour and hands them the full amount of money. Continue reading