I preached on the parable of the minas at Grace today. More on that in a moment. It was fun to begin with pictures of grandgirls and our new great grandson, Griffin Braun Haddon. You can see more pictures here. Sherry and I took Nicole and Joy with us to Roseburg last weekend. I preached at Redeemer’s, so we all went down on Friday, spent Saturday at Wildlife Safari enjoying all the animals as well as evenings in the Windmill Inn swimming pool. I remembered doing this a few years ago with friends and with my Mother before that.
As I prepared to preach, I realized that I wanted to give a quick summary of Jesus’ message of the kingdom. It’s not easy to do, I found. So I looked on the web to see what was there. There are nut cases:
The 1,000 year kingdom that starts on 2008Nisan16, March 23rd, 2008. Wherein Satan and the demons are locked up for the duration. God and Jesus and the 144,000 first new covenant saints rule from heaven in one to one correspondence with Melchizedek and Gordon and the 144,000 second new covenant saints who rule from earth. There are heavenly lords/administrators and earthly lords/administrators, and earthly priests and of course earthly citizens. 29% of mankind survives Armageddon through a rapture. All humans in the kingdom have bodies which do not age, like Adam had in the Garden of Eden. This Kingdom is the antitypical garden of Eden, the second Eden.
This is from "The Lord’s Witnesses," a spin off from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I suppose. I really wonder who "Gordon" is!
Then there’s a more serious proposal from Michael Beckwith, of Agape International Spiritual Center. He’s a key teacher on the widely sold DVD, The Secret, and a frequent guest on Oprah. He represents New Thought teaching, the law of attraction: What you think about, you bring about. When asked if this treats the universe as sort of a personal ATM, he replied, "well, that’s not the entire teaching." You can see the CBS News interview here. His idea of the Kingdom of God goes like this:
The kingdom of God is actually in us, and what comes out of your mouth, what you think about. It is not some far off divine event, but within the mind.
You don’t need God, Jesus or anything outside yourself other than a guru like him who will help you find the kingdom inside yourself. If you think good thoughts, that’s heaven. If you don’t, I guess that’s hell.
I went to Bible, of course. Psalm 96:10, 13. Psalm 72 speaks of Messiah who will come, bringing righteousness, justice, prosperity, defending the afflicted, crushing the oppressor. Isaiah 2:1-4 speaks of a time when people will study war no more. Zechariah 2:10 is a particular favorite promise: "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD." A heart level thing is the personal presence of the King, the LORD Himself. So my definition is
The dynamic activity of the sovereign, triune God to manifest His authority in His sin-alienated creation, by redeeming it from the domain of evil, judging all enemies, and bringing righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, on and through His people to the praise of His glory.
It’s kind of an intermediate divine rescue mission under the presence and power of the Spirit, leading to the kingdom in its fullness when Jesus comes personally to reign.
This has been a week of triumph as well as rough stuff. I’ve worked in a couple of situations I can only call miracle change and growth. But I’ve also watched two relationships fail with huge pain. A large lawsuit was filed against a church as a result of a situation I’ve worked closely with over the last few months. When I heard of the suit, it kinda put me over the edge. I asked the prayer group I meet with at Western how they process overwhelm. I said the best is talk deeply with a friend, one who knows my soul so well that I don’t have to edit, where the emotions can dump without concern for misunderstanding. That can’t happen just now. So I touch the words and remember as I listen prayerfully to Fernando Ortega. And I pray for the LORD of reconciliation to do His powerful work and beg, "Thy Kingdom come."
He comes in the stillness