near

I am a huge lover of movies. I will watch anything except horror flicks, and I definitely do not enjoy all chick flicks. Some are just ridiculous. My favorites are action and comedy genres. The more action the better and more laughs are the best.

Every now and then in the movies there is a ‘Hollywood typical homeless man’ on the street corner yelling out scripture with a doomsday megaphone and holding a sign that says, ‘The Kingdom of God is near.’ I think we all collectively roll our eyes when we see this, because we know there is a disconnect between the message and the way in which it is delivered. Also, not discrediting the prophets from history, but prophets need to have an awareness and place within the culture to be able to accurately deliver the message to the culture they are calling out. Unfortunately, a random dude on a street corner doesn’t exactly qualify. It’s not the first or last time the stories of Jesus will get muddled in Hollywood.

“After John was put into prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’” [Mark 1:14-15]

Jesus’ messages about the kingdom of God do get a bit intense, but we have to remember that those messages also coincide with GOOD NEWS: belief, transformation, love, grace, working towards that kingdom being restored and renewed.

We get so caught up in what is right and wrong, and how to obey socially unspoken rules in how to act as a believer within this culture that we forget what Jesus said.

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” [Luke 18:16-17]

There is an innocence in little children, and there is a way that they accept truth when it comes from people they trust. And that doesn’t even take into account the easy faith they have when it comes to Jesus. Why is it so easy for children to believe? What happens as we get older to take that quality out of our lives?

What I do know is that proclaiming the message of good news is not something to be preached from a street corner and be taken seriously. Proclaiming that message is earned through genuine, honest relationships that are built over time and it brings in an element of the message coming from someone you trust. People ask questions when your life looks different, and that makes it the easiest proclamation you will ever make when someone asks why you do the things you do.

“Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” [Luke 17:20-21]

What does Holy Spirit transformation look like within you? Is it reflected in your actions? When people make observations about you, what do they say? Do they see God?

What I love about the kingdom of God is that it isn’t a physical place…yet, and we get to place our hope in the restoration of this world, as well as work toward it with how we live our lives. And that is a message that is easy to proclaim when we are faced with corruption in government, murders, racism, death, sickness, war and everything that breaks God’s heart in this world. Eventually, all of those things will be erased and God’s love wins. Maybe someone should yell that from a street corner…God’s love wins, friends!

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the older the better

I do a lot of reading. A lot. However, right now, my book list is longer than time I have to read.

Last week I got incredibly giddy because a professor of mission I adore was finally on Twitter. He tweeted: ‘Only when we cheerfully and faithfully bear the burden of sorrow, anxiety and pain in ministry, can we boldly ask others to follow – Newbigin’.

Read that again…

I asked Michael Frost where that Newbigin quote came from, and he told me ‘The Good Shepherd.’ Since I’ve wanted to read Newbigin anyway…I ordered it.

It came today, and on the back cover it says $2.95. That’s not what I paid for it…but it led me to the copy right date that was 34 years ago.

I love how God moves us closer to his intent. It is different for everyone, but it has been going on since the beginning of time. Frost talks a lot about the universal reign of God. And Newbigin has a lot of Kingdom talk going on…where could I possibly go wrong?

What I love is that with all of the books out there right now about mission this and mission that…I opened a book 34 years old and got excited about what was in the pages. As I flipped through the book today I found this…

“The ministry of the church as a whole should be manifestly and explicitly both a ministry of love and service and compassion, and also a ministry of proclamation and enlistment – the proclamation of the coming reign of God in Jesus, and the enlistment of men for the service of that reign.”

Can I get an ‘Amen’? The two are not separate…at some point you are going to have to say something. Even walking alongside someone and participating in a ministry of presence…at some point you are going to have to point to the Kingdom of God verbally.

I actually hate that part…my words get very jumbled, and as I think ahead…I get mixed up.

But…

It is in the moments that I acknowledge God’s presence and let him use my mouth, in the moments I don’t remember all I said…those words are pretty good, I think…

And it’s not quoting scripture I spent months memorizing. I’ve never been a good memorizer. It is about knowing what you believe in, and why you believe it. What made you choose Christ in the beginning? Why do you still choose him in a culture that says there are a million ‘gods,’ not just a God?

I think my submerging into ‘sent’ verses, combined with everything I’ve been reading, truly changed the base of my mission platform. I work toward the Kingdom of God returning to earth…because this is not what God intended for us. He didn’t intend for us to cry. He didn’t intend for us to suffer. Or watch friends die from disease…

He didn’t even intend for us to ‘get it’ all of the time…

“We cannot abandon our conviction that God’s reign is embodied in the person of Jesus, and that it is his dying and rising along which can make sense out of this world in which good and evil are so tangled together. We can commend that conviction to others only as we are willing to do as Jesus did – to take the form of a servant. When Jesus has finished all of his teaching about the Kingdom of God, and when his disciples had still not ‘seen’ it, he did one thing which was the final and irreplaceable manifesting of what that Kingdom is: he stooped down and washed their feet. It is when the Church is in that position that our message of the Kingdom will be credible.”

I serve a Savior who lived on earth, taught of the Kingdom, served those around him, then died…and rose again. Now that’s an awesome story to share with a friend…

(And, I only read 2 chapters!)