KINGDOM: the King’s Edicts

“The God of the Hebrews, Yahweh, was a king returned for His people – reclaiming His proper territory, proclaiming freedom for the captives, and His rule was FAIR and GOOD”

Last time we talked about the “missing piece” of the Kingdom of God from many believer’s faith. We concluded that LOVE for others is a sure-fire sign of that kingdom. However, we have yet to fully unpack what the kingdom IS. Well, as with any Earthly kingdom, the kingdom of God has it’s own rules. And, O, how we easily misunderstand them!

Most everyone has heard of the 10 Commandments, and many others also the Old Testament Law.  Laws written directly by God’s hands, we assume they must be all-around unique. But, they’re not, and in what way they’re not is incredibly interesting. The style/format would’ve been immediately recognizable to the believers of the day.  All of the Old Testament Law fits neatly within an ancient form of literature called a “Suzerian-Vassal Agreement.”  In ancient times these were penned whenever a King took a new territory: they spelled out the expectations they had of their new subjects, and set forth their promise to watch over them, and the consequences if they did not carry out their side of the bargain. For people who were often ruled by self-serving megalomaniacs – mere humans convinced they were God, who had multiple wives, and harems the size of which would make anyone blush – the rule of this good King – who had freed his people rather than enslaved them – was unique and beautiful. [Read more…]

KINGDOM: Love as a sign of the Kingdom

Your kingdom come – Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
– Matthew 6:19

PuzzlePieceKingdomMy middle son, Tucker, used to love puzzles.  Not the simple wood-cut baby puzzles, but a good 100+ piece puzzle that would take anyone at least an hour to complete – he was only 3!  I remember once helping him with one that had him baffled and I have to admit that I, too, was stumped.  Turns out, we were missing two or three significant pieces, which really kept us from getting the bigger picture.

Likewise, the “Kingdom of God”.  Never mind that it’s the backdrop for the entirety of the whole Bible, mentioned no less that 140 times in the New Testament alone – we really don’t ‘get it’.  That’s just to say, the church as a whole hasn’t really committed much time coming to terms with the Kingdom – in many ways, it’s the ‘missing piece’ that makes us miss the big picture of our faith. [Read more…]

Smiles are like MAGIC

A few weeks ago I overheard my oldest, Kenimer (age 7), say, “Mom – did you know that smiles are like magic?”, then proceed to unpack one of the most simple and profound teachings on love and honor I’ve ever heard.

Even if someone isn’t your friend, if you just smile at them, they’re nice – they smile back, and it’s like they’re your friend then…”

My inner-conversations hours later confirmed some things hidden down deep: “So, why do I fight harder to prove I’m right or someone else is wrong, when most of the battle could be fought with just a smile?”   [Read more…]

THIS is how we celebrate Christmas

I’ve always loved Christmas.

Long before I had a clue about Jesus, when Christmas was all about Santa, Rudolph, & ToysToysToys, there was always a magic about the holiday that set it apart from the others. Becoming a Christian years later only deepened my love for the holiday, as I – apart from the gifts & parties – solemnly celebrated God’s unique engagement with the world some 2000 years ago. Having children – yet again – took Christmas to a whole new level: now able to see more clearly God’s love for His children – and His unique Son – put a whole new perspective on Jesus’ birth.

This year’s Christmas set a new standard for me. [Read more…]

REVIEW: Elevation Worship – “Kingdom Come”

ARTIST: Elevation Worship
RELEASE: “Kingdom Come
Independent

I’ll admit it: I’m not familiar with Elevation Church’s past worship CDs – I’ve never heard anything they’ve written or released prior to “Kingdom Come”.  I can’t say that it’s a step forward or back.  So, from this fairly limited perspective, I will give my rather one-sided opinion.

If you are tired of the Coldplay-inspired, Hillsong United sound (well, until their new CD – they abandoned that sound themselves!), then you may want to pass on this, as well-produced as it is (and it sounds GREAT – open, expansive – plenty of breathing room for the instruments), it fits firmly within the Hillsong United/Planet Shakers/Generation Unleashed/Alm UK territory, and doesn’t pull any surprises there. [Read more…]