Friday, December 30, 2005

The right of God...

This is something I have been turning over in my head for while. It started as a message/conversation with some high school folks.

While he was on earth Jesus exhibited his power over the things of this world; wind and rain, loneliness, sickness, classism, racism and sexism. In his resurrection he exerted his power over death. So Jesus offers us the gift of forgiveness in the shape of the cross and offers us the gift of life, the life God intended for us here and now and life eternally with Him in heaven, in his resurrection.

How do we take hold of those gifts?

In Jesus' own words: “Follow me.” Follow Jesus, oh man, I'm gonna have to change, I'm gonna have to become all churchy, I'm gonna have to be sad and mope around and pray and stop having fun. Huh??? What????

So what does “Follow me” mean? I think Jesus himself answers this question in Matthew 6

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well
Matthew 6:32-33 NIV

Our jobs as followers of Christ is to seek first the kingdom of God. What is the kingdom of God?

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too.
Romans 14:17 NLT

For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk; it is living by God's power.
1 Cor 4:20 NIV

Follow me is not necessarily saying the right things. Follow me is not necessarily doing the right things. It is much more than that. Those who thought they were saying the right things and doing the right things, the religious leaders of Jesus' day, were missing the point. To many of them, the appearance of kingdom of God did depend right action.

In Luke 17, a group of these religious leaders asked Jesus when they should expect the kingdom of God. He said don't look here or there. Look within. The Greek for within means the soul or the very deepest part of who we are. The meaning of the term for kingdom is not a literal physical kingdom rather the right to exercise authority or rule over.

The Kingdom of God, might roughly be defined as the right or authority of God to rule over the very deepest part of who we are.

At the very deepest levels of who we are God wants to be there. What's there now?

Other people's opinion's of us?
The pursuit of worldly desires?
Is it fear?

What is it that is ruling over the very deepest part of us? Following Jesus needs to be about a daily turning over of the deepest parts of who we are to God. This needs to be our concentration; making room in our soul for the God who loves us, died for us and rose from the dead for us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Catching up!!

It's been slightly over 2 weeks since my last post. It has been quite the whirlwind two weeks at that. I got to teach at our Sunday Morning services on 11/27. Here is the link if you want to have a listen. The message that morning was on Philippians 3: 10-17, Pressing on and finishing the race.

Two days later, we left to meet my in-laws at Disney, the most "magical" place on earth. Gail and I spent our honeymoon there and we ventured back a second time to catch up with high school friends. It was a much different experience this time. Seeing and experiencing that place through the eyes of my 4 year old and 7 year old was something else. Almost too much. The guys, suffered from serious sensory overload. Jared fell asleep at lunch on two different occasions, once he actually dozed off mid-sentence. Jake's favorite part was the Indiana Jones stunt show which we did twice and Jared's was the Star Wars, Star tours ride, which we did 3 times. (Gail bowed out on round 3). It was one of those vacations you need a vacation from. It was great to see my brother-in-law for the first time in over year. He and Gail's sister Karen were great sports when either Jake, Jared or I had one of our moments. I think my highlight from the trip was the dinner all the adults got to share at the Artist's Point restaurant while the boys hung out in the Cub's Den. The food was great, the wine was outstanding and the company and conversation made the meal.

We returned to the cold and snow of the Northeast. I really don't like Kennedy Airport, but I don't want to start ranting. Friday the 9th, we got our first serious snow of the year. Even though I work out of the house and the snow has no real bearing on my ability to do my job I still love a snow day. We knew it was coming, so we rented a couple of video games and movies, purchased the fixins for gravy (that's the red kind) and stoked up the wood stove. It doesn't get much better than that.

The 11th was Gail's birthday. Special occasions are tough for us when they land on a Sunday. I was out of the house by 6:00 am. At least 5 people got to wish Gail a happy birthday before I did when I finally caught up with her in the hallway at church. After set-up, two services, take down and a student ministry leadership meeting, I wasn't home until 4:00. We celebrated that night with some Italian take out and cake.

And....I think I'm caught up.