Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Fruit is produced by heart abundance. Life flows from the heart. It is possible to judge a life based on its actions. We should not be surprised to see wicked things flow from a life. When the condition of men is described in Scripture as “none is righteous”, “no one seeks for God”, and “no one does any good”, is it any wonder that evil flows from every person’s life.

The writers of Scriptures do engage in hyperbole. There are people who do seek for God. There are people who do good. But there is a life of struggle, especially among those who follow Jesus. The Spirit is in their hearts. The power to do good is there, even as the corrupted nature of man to do evil is there. Until perfected with the coming of the Kingdom, we will continue to see a struggle.

We see good in those who do not follow Jesus. They do not have the Spirit, who can power their lives for good. But they do have the image of God. Part of God’s image in us are the “fuels” of the heart. A human being is created with a need (or several needs) that when they are filled powers their living, like gasoline for an automobile. To power our hearts, we need a supply to fulfill these needs.

One of these fuels is love. Human beings not only need to receive love, human beings need to give love. And humans give love to one another largely by doing good. To function as a healthy person, one needs to do good as an expression of love. We need to produce fruit.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love Your Enemies

Jesus said “love your enemies”, because he wants us to be like God. It is very natural for people to love other like themselves, or others who show love to them. It is not natural, or easy, to give love to people who ignore us, who hate us or who we do not know. It is God-like to love those kinds of people. God is kind to the ungrateful and evil alike.

Monday, September 20, 2010


God has created us as new creatures. More, we are given a place in his Kingdom, and a vocation to carry out for that Kingdom. We embrace that vocation and move into correct alignment with the Kingdom.

A vocation is a God-given drive and passion to impact the world, to establish God’s rule over the world.

To live out our vocation, we need to know ourselves and the tasks God wants us to complete. The Scripture calls us to know ourselves and to know the grace God gives us to use. Our vocation is fundamental to our Kingdom identity. Our vocation is the primary interface if our partnership with the Spirit in the Kingdom.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blessed are the Poor

Jesus said that the “poor” are blessed. This is not how we look at things. People look at the poor as being at the bottom. Jesus treats the "poor" here as if they were on the top. What is he referring to? If a person is “poor” he is conscious of his need. He may also be conscious of a path to seek relief.

If the person seeks relief by seeking God, He will find God and become part of His Kingdom. He will move into a while new life, supplied by the promises and directions of God.

The person who is truly poor lives in fear. He has no contentment. He cannot live as God wants, because he cannot give as God wants. (And do not just imagine dollar signs. “Give” means more than that.)

God wants to do more in your life than you can possibly conceive of. If we could receive something of God’s plans and potential, and lived to fulfill a fraction, we would flip the world upside-down.

We are God’s channels to pour out his purposes into the world. He reveals plans, steps, actions and words for us to complete, pursue or deliver. We do not see his kingdom worked out, because we do not believe his promises.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For the most part, the church of today focuses almost entirely on their own. The main question asked is, how can we meet the needs of our membership?

Jesus’ focus seemed to rest among people who had no relationship with God. He did not focus on the Sadducees, who were the traditional caretakers of Judaism. He did not focus on the Pharisees, who were the purists and fundamentalists of Judaism.

The Pharisees had tremendous discipline. Discipline is a good thing. But their discipline required a person having sufficient means to keep it. And what of those who did not were not in a position to maintain Pharisaic practices? They had tried, failed and gave up. Or they were not in a position to learn the requirements and practices.

Jesus’ invitation to people had to be simple so everyone could follow it. Jesus had to remove barriers so sinners, apostates and failures could feel free to move in God’s direction.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Real Authority

There is a story about Jesus giving a lecture at someone’s house. Several men bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus. It is too crowded to get the man – on a stretcher – to Jesus, so they take the extraordinary option of removing part of the roof and lowering the man down to Jesus. Imagine someone wants to see you. Instead of knocking on the door, or ringing the bell, they rip part of your house down, so they can get in. They seem to have stopped thinking. They must have seen this as the only way to help their friend. And it was the only time, now or never. Jesus may never come this way again.

Jesus recognizes the desperation, but he also recognizes their faith in him as the answer to their friend’s need. “If we can just get him to Jesus, his problems will be solved.”

But Jesus speaks to a different need. He says their sins are forgiven. (I have often wondered why Jesus did this. Did he realize that this was their real concern? Was he setting up the crowd to demonstrate his authority as God?) The religious experts in the crowd see all sorts of red flags go up. Since, only God can forgive sins, how can this MAN say something like this?

So, Jesus asks the question, which easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or “rise and walk”? It is easier to say “your sins are forgiven.” No one expects anything to happen. There is no physical manifestation.

But if someone says “rise and walk” to a paralytic … If people expect something to happen, and it does not, then people get angry, disappointed or do not take the person seriously any more. If people expect nothing to happen, and it does not, people dismiss the speaker as a fool, who just likes shooting his mouth off.

But something happens, you have to take another look at that person. You have to take them a whole lot more seriously. He is not just a talker. He might just know something you should know. Maybe he knows something about forgiveness I do not know. Maybe there is something about him you should know.

Jesus intended it as an obvious demonstration that he does have authority to forgive. Not like we have authority to forgive someone who offends us. I can choose to not factor an offense into how I interact with someone. He has authority to absolve from real guilt, to justify and to declare righteous.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Importance of Scripture

When Jesus began his public ministry, he started with a 40 day fast. At the end of the fast, presumably because he was weaker, Satan attacked Jesus by tempting him. Satan attacked Jesus’ credibility. Jesus responded to each temptation with “It is written” and quoted a portion of Scripture.

This underlines out need to know the Scripture. Quoting Scripture is not some magic incantation. The power of Scripture lies in its truth.

Understanding Scripture is important for a number of reasons. (1) It clarifies God’s thinking. We have spoken several times of the need for revelation and wisdom. Scripture is the cornerstone for both. In it, God lays out the parameters for revelation to fall in, as well as wisdom to guide the evaluation of revelation.

(2) It reveals the mind and heart of God. In reading the Scriptures, we can remind ourselves again and again of what God finds important and what we should find important.

(3) It guides the pathways for our own thinking. As we read, study, meditate and pray, we agree in our thinking with God. God’s thoughts become our thoughts. And our mind are slowly and thoroughly transformed.

(4) It guides our actions. We know that the insides and outsides of people are equally important. Our inner life should propel the our outer life. And it is the outer life that we were created for.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Spiritual Realm

To understand the laws of the Kingdom, we need to realize there are several building blocks.
  • God’s Kingdom does not function like the world. The laws that govern it are often the reverse of what we expect. We will experience surprises and upside-down values.
  • The Kingdom – indeed, the whole spiritual realm – does not exist in isolation from the physical realm. Actions in one have effects in the other. If a person’s heart-focus connects the physical and the spiritual, then thoughts, desires and attitudes have an effect. People can move through daily existence influencing the spiritual realm, and in turn, the physical realm, because of how their hearts are focused.
  • People are spiritual creatures. They stand at the intersection of the physical and the spiritual, influencing both. And the Spirit of God in the hearts of Jesus’ disciples places them in the middle of his Kingdom. We need to realize that we are already living and having an influence.
  • If we are living and functioning in the Kingdom, perhaps in unrealized ways, we are already living according to the laws of the Kingdom.
  • The keys to unlock the laws lie in what God has said. God has already given us his promises. They reveal how God has determined he will act. We need to respond to him with the hands of faith.
  • God wants us to live in agreement with the laws of the Kingdom. Since, they are often the reverse of what we expect, we need to know and understand what they are. Since, God wants us to follow them God wants us to know them. Since, God wants us to know them he will reveal them to us. If a person reads the Scriptures, he probably knows many Kingdom laws already. They may not be labeled as a Kingdom law in the person’s thinking, but they will recognize the obligation to “keep” something they have read.
  • Many regard the “works” of the Kingdom in almost a mystical way. And I suppose they could be. Many Christians believe that God still speaks, but they would also think that God giving them a message for someone else, especially a total stranger, as moving into areas of weirdness. But we need to see that Kingdom “works” can also be extending kindness or hospitality. The simple act of sharing food or water can send shock waves through the spiritual realm. What matters is that the “work” agrees with the Kingdom laws, even if – and especially if – they run against the current of the world.
  • We need to act in agreement with the promises. If there is a condition, we need to meet it. If we accept God’s promise, in some way, it already exists. We may need to modify our behavior to prepare a place for it. God is unlimited. Or to look at it another way, God is self-limited only. God has determined how he will act in the world. There seems to be some evidence that God has limited himself to act only in response to prayer. So, we should be inviting God to act as he has indicated he would. Or we should be thanking him for acting on our behalf, for his glory, as he promised. Or some other way. And since Satan really does not want the Kingdom taking root in the world or our hearts, maybe we should taking note of these things. Keep a journal or a recipe box with 3x5 cards.
  • Some people would hear or read something like this and, because of the promises for provision, associate it with some type of prosperity gospel. (1) I am not going to be critical of someone who claims God’s promise for a new car, and then “coincidentally” receives one. (2) We need to keep the fact foremost in our thinking that God’s promises, and God keeping his promises, are not for some sort of “bless me” club. They are to promote his purposes. The ultimate purpose of God is the validation, the demonstration and the completion of his glory. The penultimate purposes of God are the salvation of men and the transformation of individuals, cities, states and cultures into something that reflects his nature. God did promise to provide for us. He did not promise we would be rich.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Spiritual Realm

There are laws that govern the physical universe. Gravity is one such law. It involves all matter. There is a constant; there are observable relationships.

There are laws that govern the spiritual universe. Reaping\sowing is an example of this kind of law. Focusing the heart (as in prayer, meditation and chanting) to connect the spiritual and the physical is another.

There are laws that govern God’s Kingdom. One of the first laws is that faith accesses God’s promises. Faith is the pair of hands held out to receive what God gives. Faith is confidence that God has the power, resources and desire to fulfill his promises.

Another law of the Kingdom is that the best attitude of heart focus is love. It is heart-focus that reaches into the spiritual realm. Prayer is a way to focus our hearts. We can prayer with hate or anger in our hearts. If we do, we can still succeed in connecting with the spiritual realm. Love has a motivation that invokes results that agree with God’s purposes more. That’s one reason why worship is an important factor in following Jesus. Worship should be an expression of love.