A Conversation With Doubt

So I had this conversation recently. I just thought I would share because this isn't the first time these questions have been asked of me.

The Inquisitive Friend: I have been reading some books and I have been thinking about free will. Do we have free will?

Me: Well, I don't think we can prove that we have free will or not, but I think it is useful to live as if you have free will. Does that make sense? The Bible seems to imply that we have free will in multiple sections - where God responds to the actions of people.

The Inquisitive Friend: Yes, that makes sense. I guess it came to mind because of the omni traits of god. Which conflicts with that idea.

Me: Theologically, I'm a proponent of the idea of open theism. That God is going through time with us and that the future hasn't happened yet. You can see in Revelation that it talks about how God is blotting out names in the book of life. Why would they have to be blotted out if he already knew for sure? He's blotting them out based on our decision.

The Inquisitive Friend: That is an interesting thought. So he is confined by our time?

Me: God is not confined. He chooses to go through time with us. He is still all powerful. Take prophecy for instance. A prophecy isn't about having seen the future. Instead, it's about him knowing what he is going to do. He is all powerful and will bring about what he says will happen. He has the power to do that. It isn't like he has seen what he will do; he knows what he wants to happen.

I wrote this a while back: http://regansravings.blogspot.com/2011/01/god-does-not-know-future.html
The Inquisitive Friend: So then he isn't omniscient?

Me: Depends on how you unpack omniscience.I think God knows everything that is to be known. He knows every potential outcome for the future, but the future hasn't happened yet. So it isn't a concrete knowing, but he knows all the possibilities. He created us as free will creatures for some reason, and this was part of what he did.

The Inquisitive Friend (with some serious comic book knowledge): So it is kind of like in Civil War 2 for Marvel. The prediction is a percentage, but there is always a chance to change it.

Me: Right. God is a God of hope trying to always steer us to the better. He knows the possibilities. He is trying to steer us in the right direction. But our choices influence the outcome. The world is the way it is - not because God wants it this way - but because this is the world we wanted. He's prompting us and guiding us to a better world all the time. But we say no way too often. 

The Inquisitive Friend: So is god good? Like morally.

I would say totally. He is the measuring stick of good. But how would we evaluate that? We would come to conversation with our own moral values. As a Christian, I have decided to surrender my moral values to God's moral values. 

The Inquisitive Friend: Why would he not directly intercede on our behalf? I have trouble in that regard. My brain doesn't work right to believe in god. 

Me: I believe he interacts with us much more than we recognize. And when we get in tune with god, it happens even more on a personal level. I totally understand doubting. I think we all have programmed in us certain ideas. Like good. Like beauty. 

The Inquisitive Friend: I can't remember the name of the guy. But one philosophy dude said that regardless of morality it is best to believe in god, tp hedge your bet. Even if it is hollow faith to start. I struggle with the idea of something I can't comprehend. As i got older i felt like praying was just talking to myself. 

Me: I wouldn't say it's about hedging a bet. That makes it all about eternity. I honestly think it is about living the fulfilled life now. It's better to live the life following Jesus. At least that is what I have decided. I would be a follower of Jesus even if there wasn't an eternity because I like the world his views tries to bring about. I like the life of true followers of Jesus. 

The Inquisitive Friend: Faith, as you are stating in your answers, seems more like an active decision rather than a compulsion. 

Me: Well, Jesus taught that the greatest commandment was to love God and love your neighbor. I'm sort of rejecting the experiential thing these days more and more. So it isn't about whether I experience God or whether I feel my prayer is being heard. It's about the good that Jesus wants us to bring into this world. Am I doing that? 

The Inquisitive Friend: I think so. I whole heartedly agree. 

Me: That's really what following Jesus is about. Literally following him in the path of bringing good into the world. Literally following him in helping the world became what it is intended to be. So whether you get an emotional experience or an inspirational high, I don't care.Let's get to following Jesus. 

The Inquisitive Friend: I wonder how that sets with the common good. Jesus said to be in the world but not of it.

he idea that there is even a common good seems to be a philosophical tenet that there is a God who prompts us to what is good.

The Inquisitive Friend:
Is man capable of that revelation on its own?

I would say that no man is. But that is an irrelevant question. Because I believe in a God who is prompting every person all the time. We just don't notice it because we are living like zombies, aren't self-reflecting, and aren't examing our lives. 

But again, that prompting comes, not as some supernatural force. It is something that has been happening to us our whole lives. We may call it our conscience. It may be that or something slightly different. But the idea is that when facing a decision, we generally can tell the wrong and right action. We will often choose the wrong though because we want that which the wrong provides. To our detriment. 

The Inquisitive Friend: Does intent matter? Like if I give 1 million to charity but I do it for my public image. Does that negate the good?

It doesn't negate the good it does for others. But it does negate the good it would do for you. I'm reminded of Karl Meninger who taught that the greatest way to get over depression is to love others. But if you are doing it for selfish reasons, then it won't probably provide the benefit to yourself. 

And that's it for now.   

Awake, O Sleeper

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 (ESV)

Here am I. Send me.

Dangerous words.

Then the message was a discouraging one to share.

And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9-10 (ESV)

It was a message of judgment. They hear the message but refuse to understand. They see God at work but they don’t perceive His guiding hand. Their hearts are calloused. Their ears are deaf. It would be rather rude to say that about the people in my community, but is it true?

Our logic doesn’t work. It’s foolish in their sight. Our reason is befuddling and seems like gibberish. Our morals are viewed as hate. Our efforts seem to be wasted.

On the bad days, I feel that is my role in the ministry. Called to preach amongst a people who won’t listen and won’t commit to the kingdom. Among the ones who the world has labeled the “deplorables.” The ones who church planting organizations overlook as they make their plans to reach the wealthy through their demographic studies of population growth and income. The ones who are ignored by the same people who get psyched up with mission trips to the inner city. The ones who are mocked, denigrated, and despised. The ones who Jesus loves.

On the real bad days, I worry that I am the blind, deaf, obstinate one.


Paul gave a chunk of advice in his letter to the church in Ephesus.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV)

Awake, O sleeper.

Who wakes the sleeper? All I can figure out is that I’m not the one that does that. It may be the sleeper. It may be God. I’m guessing by it being a command, the responsibility of waking is on the sleepers themselves. Awake, O sleeper.

Those things are out of my hands. I can choose how to walk. I can strive to be awake. I can be an imitator of God to the best of my ability. I can walk in love that comes from a place overflowing from the love I receive from the Messiah. I can to refrain from sin. On and on, I can try. But for that to happen in others, I need a move of God. I need others to feel his presence and change.

A church cannot grow without sleepers waking. A church cannot grow without people choosing to be called. A church cannot grow without people responding to that call with total abandon.

Awake, O sleeper. What if I am sleeping?


If I don’t care about showing Jesus to the people around here, who will? If you don’t, who will?

Revisiting Women's Role in the Church and in the Family


Sadly, the church has been on the side of oppressing women and telling their daughters, “You can be anything but not a preacher or a leader in the church.” “Be confident. Work hard. But make sure that you always do what your husband says.” Even in our town, these views are still prevalent. And you may think that view is the right one, but let me give you a different perspective today.

So today’s message is going to be a little different than one where I motivate you to change. It’s going to be much more of a study and explanation of women’s role in the church and in the home. But this truth can be more liberating than any motivational sermon if lived out.

Wrapped up in this issue is part of how we interpret the Bible. Do we take one verse and run with it or do we understand it in the context of the whole?

Proponents of both sides of the issue like to explain away passages that disagree with their viewpoint. But there is something to be said in reading the Bible in context and in light of the overarching themes of the rest of the Bible. There are also special contextual issues to consider when reading Paul’s writings since he is writing to address specific issues in specific churches, of which we can only surmise the context because we only have Paul’s reply. This understating and appreciation of what Paul is doing makes the application for us more refined than simply reading and then doing.

So let’s start at the beginning. In Genesis 1 and 2, man and woman were equal in God’s sight and complimented one another. In fact, the woman is called a “helper” (ezer) – the same word used in the Psalms to describe divine help. One would have a difficult time casting God as a subordinate.

So in the first chapter of Genesis, we have women created to be a helper just as God’s help given to us is described in the Psalms. But only a chapter later, things change – there is a division between man and woman as a result of sin entering the world, but we must note that this is the result of sin, not the desired relationship that God had in mind. The effects of the fall have impacted cultural perceptions and expectations between men and women negatively ever since. From the treatment of women as second class citizens, to a view of women as property, to a denial of certain rights to women, varying cultures have diminished the value of women ever since. These were not God’s intention but a result of sin among us and the fall having happened.

If we view the role of women through the idea of the kingdom of God, we see that God is restoring all things. So God’s original intention as described in Genesis 1-2, not in the post-fall Genesis 3, is the ideal of the relationship between men and women in God’s kingdom. And through the ministry of Jesus, God is now restoring all things to their intended purpose through the church. The church should be an example of God’s restored purpose for humanity as much as we can possibly make it. Not an example of the fallen world.

In addition, Paul restates this same idea to the church in Galatia:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28 ESV).”

Paul echoes this sentiment in In 1 Corinthians 12 where he states that we are one body with many members and each performs different functions. There is no delineation between men and women – no assigning the teaching or leading duties to men while relegating women to other duties.

But Paul is also the source of the two difficult passages where women should be silent and where women should not teach or have authority over a man. Throughout his writings, Paul describes a unity and equality that exists between the spiritually reborn living in God’s restored kingdom. On the other hand, Paul backs off and defers to cultural norms in these instances.

The clearest mention of a woman in leadership is at the end of Romans where Phoebe is called a deaconess/servant/minister (diakonos). Granted, this word can mean all of those things in the Greek, but in Paul’s writings when he is speaking of the office of “deacon” he uses this word. When he speaks of servants he uses other words (doulos, oiketes, pais, etc.). We have Priscilla and Aquilla, and word order was used in Greek language to show prominence, making Priscilla the prominent teacher in this couple. You even have an apostle named Junia.

So when Paul gave his lists that people use to exclude women, Paul was not providing a comprehensive list of qualifications but a general understanding of what would make a good leader. This list is used so legalistically at times that it fails to see the point -- leaders should have leadership qualities and be actual leaders. Gender, if the practice of the early church as seen in Scripture is to be given weight, is not one. The same book that commands women to be silent (1 Cor. 14:33-35) gives instructions for women praying and prophesying in the public assembly (1 Cor. 11:2-16). This role of prophet and praying in public indicates some level of authority and leadership in the church given to women, even over men.

The notion that men have the corner market on wisdom, knowledge and teaching ability is pure arrogance. And relegating women to teaching only children and other women is not only demeaning but fails to see the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Yes, women can be homemakers – my family life is a testament to the idea that I like that concept - but so can men. In the same way men can lead the church, but so can women. Only by working together, making up for one another’s deficiencies, and carrying one another’s burdens do we see the Kingdom come.

As for qualifications of leaders, obviously we don’t want some hot headed drunk leading the church. But as I mentioned, I think these are general principles based on observation, experience, and wisdom as opposed to clearly delineated “qualifications.” The two lists in the two different letters of Paul’s where he mentions it aren’t even the same. In other words, each candidate should be evaluated individually. Maybe the person is divorced because the spouse had an affair and left him or her. Maybe the person brought their child up in the church and did all he or she could but the child still is wayward. Perhaps the recovering alcoholic has controlled the addiction. The point is that I don’t think that a candidate should be dismissed out of hand because he or she doesn’t meet the qualifications without examining the reasons behind their circumstances. And I don’t think they should be disqualified for something that happened in their lives fifteen years ago. Again, this reasoning is based on my understanding that Paul offers a general list of leadership qualities, not a law of leadership qualifications.

Not all of us will be elders or teachers. Each of us performs different functions and roles within the body. But that does not disqualify women from fulfilling these functions. Nowhere in Paul’s discussion on giftedness does he single out men for the “leadership” type gifts or roles. I agree that not every woman should be a leader in the church. Just like every man should not be one. I have heard dynamite women teachers and awful male ones (and vice versa). We are who God empowers us to be, regardless of gender. And the only sin here is if we don’t operate in our giftedness or don’t allow others to operate in their giftedness.

What it comes down to in the Kingdom of God is to be a community that rises above the “-isms” that have plagued our society and churches. It is time to do away with chauvinism, feminism, racism and return to seeing each other as created equally loved in God’s sight and empowered differently but living unified to do the work of the Kingdom.

Now, that is church life. But I think if we go to the same passages regarding family life with the same attitude and understanding the same principles, we will see a similar stance.

A study was released a while back that described three types of families. One happy, termed cohesive. Two unhappy, termed disengaged and enmeshed.

“Typically cohesive families are characterized by harmonious interactions, emotional warmth, and firm but flexible roles for parents and children. "Think the Cosby family," says Sturge-Apple, offering an example from the popular TV series about the affable Huxtable family.

Enmeshed families, by contrast, appears to be emotionally involved and display modest amounts of warmth, but they struggle with high levels of hostility, destructive meddling, and a limited sense of the family as a team. Sturge-Apple points to the emotionally messy Barone family in the family sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond as a good example of an enmeshed family.

Finally, disengaged families, as the name implies, are marked by cold, controlling, and withdrawn relationships. [With help from my Facebook friends, think All In The Family, Married With Children, or National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. ] The seemingly pleasant suburban family in the movie Ordinary People provides a classic illustration of a disengaged family, as per the authors. Reacting to the death of their oldest son, the parents in the film retreat emotionally, creating a barren home environment in which feelings cannot be discussed.”

What we see in Paul's passage on the household in Colossians on how to have the family God desires is similar to what the scientists in the studies mentioned earlier would describe as a cohesive family. Paul wrapped up telling us about the new self with instruction about the household. The new self should permeate every area of our lives. The old self is lying, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk while the new self is compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, thankfulness, forgiveness, and love. But then he follows this with explicit instructions on family life (see Colossians 3:12-14).

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven (Colossians 3:18-4:1 ESV).”

Now, let’s deal with the elephant in the room first. The big, hot button issue is that first sentence.

"Wives, submit to your husbands."

An exercise that is useful in discovering the meaning of a word is to examine what it meant in the original language through a Greek word study. One of the biggest mistakes typically done is to just look the word up in an English dictionary and call it good from there. The problem with our understanding "hupotasso" is that we don't use the word "submit" much in our normal conversations. The only places I hear it is in wrestling/mma and in a classroom environment where a student submits a paper to their teacher. In doing a word study, we can see how the word was used in other sections of Scripture. So let's look at some of those verses.

“And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive (hupotasso) to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51 ESV).”

Jesus was hupotasso to his parents.

“Let every person be subject (hupotasso) to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God ( Romans 13:1 ESV).”

We need to hupotasso governing authorities.

“Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints—be subject (hupotasso) to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer (1 Corinthians 16:15-16 ESV).”

We need to hupotasso to every fellow worker and laborer like those of the household of Stephanas.

“Submit (hupotasso) yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7 ESV).”

We need to hupotasso to God.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting (hupotasso) to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV).”

We need to hupotasso to one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus.

We could get a grand and deeply authoritarian view of submission from the verses that teach us to submit to governing authorities and God, but there are uses of "submit" that throw a kink into that definition. We see that submitting to one another is something that we are all called to do as believers to each other.

So the word "submit" has to fit these passages. And sadly, the concept, especially in regards to the role of a woman with her husband when viewed as a subordinate role, has been misunderstood and doesn’t fit. This teaching of womanly submission has tragically been abused by the patriarchal society of the past and is still being abused in sexist settings today, to the detriment of everyone involved. I have heard of tragic stories of abuse in which a woman has been told to submit to her husband and remain in an abusive relationship. I have heard stories of women having to go along with things they seriously disagree with. That is not what this verse in Colossians is implying.

Submit (hupotasso) is voluntarily placing ourselves under someone in order to support them and help them achieve the dreams they have. When Paul wrote that a wife should submit to her husband he was stating that a wife needs to be a person who is voluntarily supportive of their husband, but that is nothing more than what Paul said we need to be to one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus. It is nothing more than the husband should also be to the wife.

Submitting does not mean that we don’t speak up, that we don’t ever disobey. It does not mean that we endure torture or abuse under another. It means that we know the dreams of the other person, we put ourselves voluntarily under them to help them achieve those dreams. We become a support to lift them up and help them achieve their goals.

A domineering man might then ask, "What does authority matter if it does not mean blind obedience by those under authority?" It’s mean Christian authority. If you are over someone in Christ, then you are their servant leader. Jesus does not force His will to be done through taking away free will. He leads out of submission and love. We are to do likewise.

Jesus taught:

"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28 ESV).”

Jesus also taught that leadership in the church and in Christian relationships is upside-down.

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12 ESV).”

Servant leadership is what Christian leadership is all about. As a pastor, I am in this position to serve the people – you - in this church, the community around here, and world abroad. The other leaders in a church are there to do likewise. If you are living out the life of Jesus in your workplace, then you should be about serving those around you. Christian leadership, whether it is the role of a husband in the house, parents to their children, a teacher to their students, a law enforcement officer to the citizens, is one of sacrifice and service when done well.

We all know in the core of our being what good leadership is. What kind of cowardly father would flee if his family was endangered? What kind of corrupt politician would seek to gain personally from their position as a representative of the people? What kind of shameful law enforcement officer would abandon people in need of help? And that is what Paul is laying out here because, so often, men can create a destructive family environment from their unhealthy leadership. The leadership trap for a husband, as Paul warns, is to become harsh with their wives and provoke and discourage their children.  

But a healthy family is not one of selfish and personal ambition. It’s one of compassion, patience, meekness, humility, forgiveness, and love. It is the new self lived out in unison one with another. A healthy family is the most basic example of the love of Jesus lived in community. The family is designed to be a place where people are encouraged and built up to be who Jesus wants them to be rather than a place of manipulation and selfish ambition.

In the healthy family, telling a wife that she is to submit to her husband, as long as we are using it with the biblical idea of hupataso, is also proclaiming that the husband must serve his wife. We must never separate a wife submitting with the love of the husband that is alsoconnected with that command to submit.

Submit does not mean that someone should be silent, obedient at all times, or a slave. Actually, if submit means to support someone to achieve their dreams, then speaking up and telling the other person where they need to improve would be needed at times. So submit, in Paul's command for a wife to submit to her husband, just means that the woman will help the man achieve the dreams he is trying to achieve. She will be his support. From other verses, we see that a man should be just as supportive of his wife. It’s the same concept we are to do to one another.

The main crux of the argument, as Paul described the way the household should function is that the man should no longer abuse his position. At the time this letter was written to church in Colossae, the man was very domineering over the family in that culture. Paul gave three warnings to the man. One, he is not to be harsh with his wife. Two, he is not to provoke and discourage their children. And three, he is to treat his slaves justly and fairly. This was a radical teaching that would be liberating to wives, children, and slaves at that time.

The Roman society was patriarchal and vicious. Babies would be presented to the father after birth at which he could decide to let the baby not enter the family by forcing the baby to just be abandoned and die from exposure. No property was allowed to be owned in a Roman family except for the father owning it; this even included grown men. All children were to be under the authority of their father until his passing.

Like modern sitcoms jokingly show the faults in the American family, Roman theater did the same for their audience. And we can see in the family comedies of Plautus and Terrence that the Roman family could devolve into manipulation and greed. With such a patriarchal structure, the wife, children, and slaves would all try to manipulate the father to get their will done. Paul's writings were a direct assault on the Roman family structure and would have transformed a Roman family that lived selfishly into one that would be a witness for Jesus. The Christian family is to be a model of God’s plan for us in right relationship with each other. The church is to be the same.

If the man is the head of the house, it is not as a domineering head. Christian leadership is the exact opposite of being domineering. If anyone is the head of anything in Christian thinking, then that person is to be the servant of those he is the head of. True Christian leadership is serving, not domineering. We will wrongly take the headship idea that we get from the Bible and then apply a worldly definition to it, but it is to be viewed through the lens of a sacrificial Jesus who, as the head, gave up his life so that those like you and me – under him – could live.

In Genesis, humanity fell and there were consequences:

“To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you (Genesis 3:16 ESV).”

That’s the fall. That’s what Jesus came to reverse. That’s not the reality we are called to live in.

As Paul explains it:

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:19-21 ESV).”

In the perfect world before the fall, women were not ruled over by men; that was a consequence of sin. As Christians, if we are forgiven of our sins and are striving to live in perfection, then we should treat women as they were treated before the punishment of sin. As much as is possible by us, we should live as the restored people of God, letting the kingdom be realized as much as it possibly can in the here and now through us. That would include women not being ruled over by men, both in the home and in the church, but being treated as equals as they were before the fall.

Let’s live in God’s restored kingdom reality.