Sunday, December 7, 2008

Your Kingdom Come

Last week my brother and I made a quick trip to Saskatchewan by car. Somewhere between Hafford and Krydor at about 12:30 A.M. I leaned back in the passenger seat and gazed out my window and up into the prairie sky. The expanse was peppered with stars. The song playing on the stereo was U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name". It seemed fitting; echoes of that eternal city as I stared off into the face of infinity.

So this, the second post devoted to the Lord's Prayer is an interesting one. How many have uttered "thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" and didn't consider their request literally? It does have a nice ring to it but what are its implications?

I've always been amazed that despite God's sovereignty, His predestining of people and His ability to design and bring intricate plans to pass, that He would instruct people to pray in this way. Its almost as if we need "us" to pray more than He needs "us" to pray. Nevertheless, the prayer itself finds us gazing from our mortal foothold off towards eternity and inviting all that God "is" there, to be here in this "not so spiritual" place called earth. This is a bold prayer. It is a "buying in" to God's plan of redemption. This is a prayer one would offer after venturing through the door of salvation. Faith has been exercised in receiving His gift. The first marvelous taste has been received. If this is you Lord, I want what You have, not the meager counterfeit that the world has to offer.

When we ask that God's Kingdom come, we invite all that is His to invade every part of us. We aren't asking Him to go to a third party location where we admire His government from afar. This is a request that goes straight to the heart. We ultimately are asking for more than we bargained for.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Father...

As some of you may recall, the Lord's prayer found in Matthew 6 has played an important role in my time with Him. Each segment of the prayer is intentional and purposeful for the Christian. This isn't just a Catholic tradition. When Jesus responded to the disciples' request "teach us to pray", He laid out a pattern that is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago on a dusty mountain on the outskirts of Jerusalem. I hope to spend the next few posts looking at the prayer and how it provides us with a simple outline of how we should approach God, and what really matters in all things eternal.
Today, we begin with the first two lines, mentioned first for a reason. When we come to God, whether it be in daily prayer or whether it is our first time whispering His Name, this portion indicates a "posture" or "attitude" that is important to understand. We want to acknowledge that He is Lord. He has a place of preeminance, and we willingly, humbly bow before One seated on His throne. Now this may be a precarious posture to take if we knew Him as "Dictator" or "Tyrant" but that is not who He is. We call Him Father! The very first think Jesus tells us to do, is call this incredible God, Father. What an invitation! What a priviledge! We know that typically, a father knows how to give good gifts to his children. Well, so does our heavenly Father. Sadly, many today do not (cannot) bring themselves to call Him "Father". Pride may keep them from bowing before Him. They may be convinced that they are quite capable of doing it themselves, thank-you very much. They may have a twisted idea of what a father is and does and want no part in Him. Should they leave this life not knowing, never bowing, we know that that acknowledgement will be made. "Every knee will bow, every tonque will confess".
And, in case we didn't quite "get it", He describes the name as "hallowed" or "holy". We see in numerous other scriptures, the importance of a name. It not only has meaning but can carry with it, authority. We know that "holiness" is "without sin", a love that is pure and uncorrupt, never changing, always true and constant.
So we see that we are able to come without pretense. Yes He is King, but invites us to come as a son or daughter would. What an invitation! So simple, so profound!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A City on a Hill

Our farm in Saskatchewan was (still is) located approximately 60 miles north of Saskatoon. On a clear night (most nights), you could look south and see that familiar glow rising up from the horizon representing a city of 175,000 people.
I've always like the metaphor mentioned in Matthew 5:14. Clearly, the city that Jesus is speaking of is worth seeing; it's light not limited to one direction but set up on a hill for those around it to see. If you live in this metaphorical city, perhaps you've wondered about the kind of light that is being seen by others.
In our small group discussion last night, we considered the "love-one-another" command that Jesus gave. How captivating that kind of a light is! The love that comes from Christ, that pure love that does not come with conditions is so foreign to the area surrounding "the city". If we were to reflect on what it is that keeps us and holds us close to Christ, it's that love!
When the "prodigal son" decided to return to his father after he squandered his inheritance, he thought he had forfeited the love of his father. He could only hope for some peripheral blessing, maybe if he was lucky, he could be given the status of a servant on his father's estate. He hadn't counted on the unwavering love of a father that had not changed even during the absence of his son.
This is the kind of light the radiates from the city that Jesus spoke of. This is the love that gets attention. This is the love that can penetrate the most hardened soul.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Treasure hidden in a field...

When I was growing up in Saskatchewan, I, like all the boys my age, learned to operate a tractor in the fields when I was a preteen. I remember one specific day I was doing some work in a field not to far from the one pictured with my children, my father and our dog (above). I was driving a John Deere AR tractor. I had on one of my fingers, a ring. I'm not sure where I got it from. It wasn't anything special; no stones; just a simple ring that likely cost less than a $1.00. I still remember exactly what it looked like. I was playing with it when it fell off my finger, bounced off of the floor of the tractor, through a hole and down onto the field passing by below. I quickly got everything stopped and tried to find it but couldn't. As I passed by the spot with my tractor, I would look at the spot, hoping to catch a hint of glitter so I could locate it but never could. As I worked the field in subsequent years, I would always keep my eye open around the area where it had gone missing... nothing. As I grew into adulthood and left the farm, during return visits I pass by the field and always remember that small event some 35 years later.

In Matthew 13:44 is a very brief but vivid parable about the Kingdom of heaven. It describes a man who finds a treasure in a field. He then hides it in the field and sells everything he has to buy the field. He has made the connection that so many on earth fail to understand, Jesus comes to us and offers us something that is priceless, simply incomparable to anything we could possibly possess here on earth. It is something eternal. Jesus spoke of this treasure and then delivered it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From Here to Eternity

There is just something about the thought of heaven that stirs up the imagination. You don't have to believe in the claims of Christ to wonder what might actually await us on the other side of the curtain of death. As a child, I would fantasize about it. As an adult, I read the passages that describe heaven and images leap into my mind's eye.

Several years ago, God illuminated aspects of the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6) to me. One phrase got my attention, "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. " Jesus was actually instructing people who were alive on earth to request from the 'Father' in heaven that His kingdom would come to earth and further, His will would actually be performed here. It would be carried out on earth in a similar way to how its carried out in heaven. Jesus was not and is not asking us to pray that God would pull the pin on earth but that there would be a manifestation of something eternal, something heavenly. What that said to me was God's plans reach down from heaven still. God's will is performed outside of heaven as it is performed within heaven. This did not quench my interest in heaven, rather is deepened it.

In the past 2 years I've read 3 books that speak to some aspects of this. The first book really whet my appetite for all things heavenly. Heaven is so Real is quite the book. The author is taken to heaven in a series of visions... I know, it has all the makings of a cult but I pressed on through. Other than a few escathological conclusions she comes to, I couldn't find anything that clearly contradicted scripture. If anything, it made my picture of heaven more vivid. I came away with a renewed sense of needing to get things done while I'm still here on earth. Seems like a good point to end a book on.

The next book to challenge me was Driven by Eternity. In the part of the book, John Bevere writes an allegory. He unfolds it in such a way that we consider what God will be looking for on that day of judgement; when life on earth as we know it comes to an end and we are left to give an account. He describes the response of different ones who are left stunned by God's judgement of them. Should I be taking my salvation for granted? ah... no! I left this book thinking, "Are the things that I give myself to on earth having any positive bearing on eternity?" This is always a great question to consider?

The final book When Heaven Invades Earth gives us some sense of what it means to take God seriously about inviting His will to be done on earth. The book begins by giving an account of a young couple who were planning their wedding. Both of them loved the Lord and had a desire to see needy people ministered to. On the day of their wedding, they sent out buses to the poor parts of the city to gather people for their marriage banquet. Before hand, they set up a gift registry at Target requesting only coats, hats, gloves and sleeping bags so they could give these out to the poor that would be coming. After the ceremony, the bride and groom went behind the table and began to serve all the guests. Plenty of opportunity was given for people to be ministered to. Not only were people fed that day but God chose to move, even healing some of terminal diseases... God's will was done on earth, just as it is in heaven. In this book Bill Johnson says, "This world is our assignment, but not our home. Our purpose is eternal. The resources needed to complete the assignment are unlimited. The only restrictions are those between our ears." Many of us don't even have an inkling of what "your will be done" might possibly mean. This book provides a great taste.

Its hard to give justice to these books in the space of this small post but they are a thought provoking, inspiring eternity trilogy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


OK, if I'm going to do this thing, there may be a few things you should know about my intentions for this site. In keeping with my involvement with church and small group leadership, I'm thinking that these groups will be my primary target. I hope that the posts I make will be encouraging, challenging (a little shaking is always good) and thought provoking. I stand by my subtitle, if it's worth doing, it worth doing unto the Lord. I enjoy humour in writing. I'll try not to keep my tongue in cheek when I know I should be biting it. I have a little trouble with the proper use of homonyms... so their! In the end, just having an outlet to write some of the thoughts of my heart will be good for me. Like a wise bletherer once told me, "It doesn't matter if anyone reads my blog", I know that I will always have an audience of One. He's the One that counts!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Happy Birthday to my love!

What better way to inaugurate my arrival on the blogging landscape than to say happy birthday to the love of my life! We met a few days after your birthday in 1980, but I've been there for every one ever since. It has been great, so will the years to come!