All Things Kingdom

From a young Christian's perspective

In the end, even the “yes” to love is a source of suffering, because love always requires expropriations of my “I”, in which I allow myself to be pruned and wounded. Love simply cannot exist without this painful renunciation of myself, for otherwise it becomes pure selfishness and thereby ceases to be love.

—Pope Benedict XVI

I highly recommend this book pertaining to the creation story of Genesis One. John Walton comes at the text from a Scripturally exegetical perspective taking into account both the original language (Hebrew) and the culture at the time (Ancient Near East). I won’t spoil it, but it’s fantastic. I’m sold.

I highly recommend this book pertaining to the creation story of Genesis One. John Walton comes at the text from a Scripturally exegetical perspective taking into account both the original language (Hebrew) and the culture at the time (Ancient Near East). I won’t spoil it, but it’s fantastic. I’m sold.

Honest Prayer

This past week, for me, has been very trying on my steadfastness in the Lord. It seems that whenever things get tough, we turn to the Lord for answers, as I did many many times. Alternatively, when things are fantastic we pray and shout to the Lord with joy, as we should! There isn’t much prayer in between though is there? Without discipline or prayer sheets, it seems we have trouble communicating with God. However, the topic I want to explore is a bit different, what I’m looking for is honest prayer.

It only makes sense to come right out and say it, though this isn’t what I would consider a personal blog. I just went through a tough break-up with a girl I could have seen myself with in the future. It was full of unanswered questions, heart searching, and much much prayer. When I say prayer, I mean a lot of prayer: prayer from friends, family, church members, and myself. What did I decide to pray, though?

Most of the prayers went along the lines of, “God, whatever is in your will let it be done, all things work together for Your good, Lord”, or “Lord speak to me in this situation, guide me in what I need to do, and speak to her as well, give her clarity of mind and heavenly wisdom along with good counsel to guide her decisions”. Those are good prayers right? Yes! However, as time went on I knew God was pulling something more out of me in our conversations. 

How about this one: “Lord, please. I really want this to work! I have poured much of my heart into this, and my desire is that you would bring us together. I want her. I want her to recognize ________, I want her to know ________, I want ______”. There it is. That was my heart, my selfish longings that I had kept locked down knowing that they were selfish, and keeping them from God for that reason.

This is my realization, though. I have written about this, talked about it, encouraged others to do it, and done it myself often, but it just takes those times to get it into my head: God wants my WHOLE heart. He doesn’t want the filter, why would He? He knows already! I might as well yell out to Him what I’m feeling, which a few times has been “What the *#$%”, or “Why the @#*$ Lord, why is this happening?” You heart is no secret to God, and it’s a matter of communication and release to speak it to Him. Revealing those things is a time of openness and vulnerability in the face of your Maker. 

Jeremiah 17:10a “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind”. He knows us, are we willing to let Him know us?

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all

—1 John 1:5

Are You Holding on Too Tight?

Idols. I think we’ve all heard the word before. They’re usually a little talisman, or a small buddha, or any token that is worshipped directly. Commonly we think of this as a practice done in other, third-world countries right? Not exactly.

Let’s take a moment to define exactly what an idol is. An idol is any object, person, idea, place, or state-of-mind that takes your attention off of God. Now the field has broadened. This can include a boyfriend/girlfriend, your career, your football scholarship, your grades in school, your good looks. An idol is anything that moves to take the place of God in your life. 

So, let’s move on to grief for a bit. What do we do when we lose something we care about? When our career goes down the tube, when our girlfriend/boyfriend breaks up with us unexpectedly, when you failed a class you desperately needed to pass to graduate on time.. what do we do? We grieve. We cry, some of us go out drinking, or just ignore it. What were feeling at those times, however, is the passing away of earthy idols. They didn’t seem like idols right? They seemed like concrete, real things that improved out lives and we enjoyed pursuing. However, the feeling that the ground is falling out from underneath you is not healthy. 

When we plant our feet firm in the Gospel and what Jesus did for us, we can’t be shaken by earthly things. Like in Matthew when Jesus gives the parable of the man who built his house on the rocks. The wind and the storms came, but the house was not moved. Our lives will not be moved when we plant our feet firm in the saving work of Jesus Christ.

So, as your feeling grief look at your life and see if what your grieving was an idol. After all, it never belonged to you anyways, it all belongs to God. And He wants your heart too.

Hope in Darkness

"In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind" Job 12:10.

Read that again.

"In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”

In the midst of this chapter, Job is crying out to the Lord out of depression and much loss. Job has lost his children, his wife, his estate, his cattle (well-being), and his health. He literally has nothing. Nothing but God.

As Job even earlier speaks “Why did you bring me out from the womb? Would that I had died before any eye had seen me”, he is honestly and openly seeking the face of God for answers to his pain and hurt (10:18). He sees no reason for the turmoil coming upon him, even the Lord says, “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (1:8). There is no iniquity that the Lord is punishing him for, Job is  being put through tough circumstances at the will of God to prove His name great. Job has faith and exercises it throughout the chapter, but that’s not the focus today. The focus is verse 10 in particular. Let’s dissect it and see how we may apply it to our lives.

Do we understand that God literally holds the breath of every man in his hands? He gave, and He takes away. This should evoke one specific thing of many in our minds. Fear. Now, this isn’t a fear like being afraid of the dark, or afraid that a lion will escape from the zoo and maul you. This is a fear that must stem out of reverence. The Lord is good, He is just, and He is loving. The fact that He holds our breath between His fingertips is a sign of His power and infinite might. However, this is also a sign of His goodness. It’s not just that He “let’s us live”, which is absolutely true, but He loves to see us live. He takes joy in your life and rejoices at your victories over sin and death! Thus, the fear of a mighty God and the knowledge of His great goodness and joy should be seen as one and ultimately should evoke reverence. As the seraphim in heaven sing day and night, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”, so we should sing with them (Isaiah 6:3)!

The chance of hope in darkness is not a chance at all. It is entirely dependent on the will of the Lord; the perfect will of a perfect God intervening in the imperfect lives of broken men and women. So, when darkness comes inevitably, and evil visits, we can rest in the knowledge of the Holy. He is the holy Lord of all, and He won the battle before it even began. He sees you, He will comfort you, He knows. He knows.

O, the Joy of Affections

Henry Scougal writes in his book The Life of God in the Soul of Man: 

"The most ravishing pleasures, the most solid and substantial delights that human nature is capable of, are those which arise from the endearments of a well-placed and successful affection."

This is an extremely profound and applicable statement, here’s why.

Think about that person in your life that really gets your heart racing, that girl or guy that you think about all day. With true affection, what should sprout out of the relationship is an eager desire to serve one another and the aspiration to sprout joy in their hearts. We constantly pour out our love into the life of this person, and it feels great! It is true, that the “most ravishing pleasures” that we are capable of stem out of our affection and endearments for the object of our love. Why doesn’t isn’t it always lovely and perfect, though? We get let down. 

As we constantly pile our hopes for joy and happiness on another being, we should expect that at one point that person is going to fold under the weight of our affection. This can happen in an instant, the rug is pulled out from under you and your affection got taken with it. The fact is, we put perfect expectancy on an imperfect soul. This is where the problem lies; our affections are misplaced.

What if our ultimate desire was God? What if our affections are geared toward a perfect and Holy God? O what a delight that would be! What an ever-flowing fountain of joy and peace would emerge!

You see, if our greatest pleasures and delights come from well-placed affection (which we get a taste of in human relationships), what better Being to gaze our affection on than the loving Lord of the Universe? He will never let us down! He is infinitely Just, Holy, and Sovereign. He makes perfect decisions effortlessly, unbeknownst to us or not. As we turn out gaze to the Creator of the Universe, our well-placed affection turns into an ever-reaping cycle of pleasure and delight! We are pouring water into a vase that never fills up, yet is overflowing with affection at every moment!

In essence, if we decide to place our affections in the hands of the Lord of the Universe, and if we receive the greatest pleasures from pouring our affections out into the one we love, then where else should we be pouring out affection into? Kneels your hearts toward the Lord of all, and sow into the everlasting field of greatness. 

More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great All, and His presence the glory and wonder of our lives.

—A.W. Tozer