Pope John Paul II on Art and Artists

Each authentic work of art interprets the reality beyond sensory perception. It is born of silence, admiration, or the protest of an honest heart. It tries to bring closer the mystery of reality. So what constitutes the essence of art is found deep within each person. It is there where the aspiration to give meaning to one's life is accompanied by the fleeting sense of beauty and the mysterious union of things. Authentic and humble artists are perfectly well aware, no matter what kind of beauty characterizes their handiwork, that their paintings, sculptures, or creations are nothing else but the reflection of God's Beauty. No matter how strong the charm of their music and words, they know that their works are only a distant echo of God's Word.

From Pope John Paul II at the Mass for Artists in Brussels on May 20, 1985.

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Merry Christmas

I've been a bad poster this month due to work. Christmas is not a relaxing time for our family.

Despite that, we are having fun.

Merry Christmas everyone.

And I'll post more in the coming year.

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Discussion concerning the Kingdom being the "Good News"

My post on the "Good News being the Kingdom" received a reply.

How do you deal with Mt. 20:28.
"...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Pretty specific of why he came; to serve and give his life as a ransom. No mention of kingdom. Not a single one of your scriptures says specifically, "Jesus came to establish His kingdom."

How do you explain that?

Here was my reply (with some additions since I replied):

I say, "Great!" I am full of joy that he came to serve and be a ransom. Sounds like a great model for people that are in his kingdom to live up to once they have accepted his redemption and placed themselves under his lordship.

I would also cite the context. One must read it in the context of all of the other passages about the "kingdom" in the book of Matthew that precede it. And one must make careful notice of the passage's immediate context. That answer came as a result of a request made about positions of power in the kingdom. Here is section of Scripture:

Matthew20:20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, What do you want? She said to him, Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom. 22 Jesus answered, You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink? They said to him, We are able. 23 He said to them, You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father. 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Notice that He didn't say that there wasn't a kingdom, nor that there weren't positions in the kingdom. He pointed out the upside-down nature of his kingdom. His kingdom isn't an authoritarian top-down heirarchy that we see throughout the world. His kingdom is one in which the least will be the greatest. It is one in which the leaders are to be servants like he set an example of. I think that is the point of the verse you cited, not a proclamation of the individualization of the gospel message.

I don't think that verse trumps Luke 4:43: “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent”. Also, the book of Matthew also mentions earlier, "Preach this message: ‘the kingdom of heaven is near’" (Matthew 10:7).

The topic of the article was "What is really the good news taught by Jesus?" I think Scripture says that the good news was the kingdom. We have changed that message and now say the good news is personal salvation or something else.

Now, there were other tasks that Jesus came to complete. The verse you cited points out that he came to be a ransom and to serve. Those are great things that Jesus did, but those things were not the gospel or the "good news" that Jesus taught. Nor were they quoted by Luke as the reason that Jesus stated he was sent nor were they what Jesus commanded his followers to preach. They were an example of how his kingdom would work in a different manner than the kingdoms that seem to prevail, albeit temporarily, in this world.

I think we should teach the gospel that Jesus taught and find joy that His kingdom is different than the corrupt kingdoms of this world.

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More on the word "kyriakos" concerning the Lord' Day

Shannon shared:

From the Expositor's Bible Commentary -New Testament (Zondervan):
At least the first vision--if not the whole Book of Revelation--was revealed on "the Lord's Day" (kyriake hemera). Since this is the only place in the NT where this expression is used, its identification is difficult. Paul uses kyriake as an adjective in 1 Corinthians 11:20 in reference to the "Lord's supper" (kyriakon deipnon)."

It has more on why that change in terms may be. But I thought I'd give you the facts and save the opinion part unless you really wanted it. I for one did not find the opinions very helpful. Good work on the Greek.

Below is information from the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. I have taken the liberty of omitting as much Greek as possible.

It occurs twice in the NT: 1 Corinthians 11:20 (Lord's Supper) and Revelation 1:10 (Lord's Day). The adjective as thus applied arose on Greek soil, for there is no corresponding adjective in Semitic. A genitive "of the Lord" might have been used instead of the adjective that was used. But the choice of this adjective based on "Lord" is not surprising, since of the Greek adjectives formed from the customary terms for Christ this was the only one which could denote the relation of a thing to Christ; "Christian" was used of people and "bringing salvation" had acquired a differnt sense from "belonging to the savior". If it is asked, then, why the two words, "supper" and "day", are combined with the adjective instead of the genitive "of the Lord", the answer is that this is an indirect relation to the Lord. Examples that us "of the Lord" are "word of the Lord" and "coming of the Lord".

The Lord's Day takes its signifcance from the resurrection of Christ. The "Lord's Day" soon became the day when the congregations assembled. John's Gospel emphasizes that Jesus rose on the first day of the week (John 20:1,19,26) while the reference to the "Lord's Day" in Reveleation 1:10 does not mention its importance as a day of assembly. The custom of not working on the Lord's Day was naturally impossible both for Jewish Christian congregations, which still kept the Sabbath, and for Gentile Christian congregations, which included slaves among their members and which were implicated in many different ways in the everyday life of paganism. The day could be distinguished only by coming together, although in 1 Corinthians 16:2 Paul writes that something for the Jerusalem collection should be laid aside on this day (the actual experession does not occur). Whether this is connected withy payday, as suggested by some, is not certain. Perhaps Paul takes the day when the congregation was assembling and when its thoughts would thus be occupied with church affairs. There is no proof, of course, that the Pauline churches assembled every Lord's Day, or only on the Lord's Day. But the first day of the week already enjoyed a certain prominence in Judaism, since it was the day when creation of the world began. For Christianity the resurrection of Jesus was the beginning of a new age. The fasts on the fourth and sixth days were also connected with the story of Jesus, since they were the days when counsel was taken to destroy Him (Mark 14:1) and when He was crucified.

I don't think any of my thoughts from my first post have changed.

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The Sabbath, the Lord's Day, Saturday or Sunday, and fasting on the Lord's Day

A friend asked me the question: "When is the Lord's Day?"

This is the result of the research I did to answer that friend. Below are all of the relevant verses and references from the early church (3rd century or earlier) that I found. There could be some significant verses out there that I didn't find.

Here are my conclusions:

1. The phrase "day of the Lord" refers to the future day of the Lord's judgment.

2. The phrase "Lord's Day" refers to Sunday or the eighth day of the week.

3. The early church felt it was extremely important to meet on the first day of the week (the Lord's Day) to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

4. It appears that calling the first day of the week the Lord's Day was a later development that occurred prior to John's writing of Revelation but after the rest of the writing of the rest of the New Testament.

5. Referring to the Lord's day as the eighth day of the week like many of the church fathers did hearkens back to the creation account. On the seventh day God rested. On the eighth he brought about his work of redemption.

One stream of thought ran through many of the church fathers was that we should not fast or kneel on the Lord's Day. I found this extremely interesting. This stream of thought seems to stem from Matthew 9:14-17

Matthew 9:14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" 15 And Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."

The early church believed that Jesus was present during the Lord's Supper, which was the centerpiece of the gathering on the Lord's Day. With Jesus being present there was no reason to fast or kneel. The church was to celebrate the resurrection of our king.

"day of the Lord" references

Isaiah 58:13
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words.

Isaiah 61:2
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.

Lamentations 2:22
"As you summon to a feast day, so you summoned against me terrors on every side. In the day of the Lord's anger no one escaped or survived; those I cared for and reared, my enemy has destroyed."

Ezekiel 7:19
They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the Lord's wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin.

Zep 1:8
On the day of the Lord's sacrifice I will punish the princes and the king's sons and all those clad in foreign clothes.

Zep 1:18
Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord's wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth."

Zep 2:2
before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day of the Lord's wrath comes upon you.

Zep 2:3
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger.

Ac 2:20
The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

1Co 1:8
who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 5:5
deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2Co 1:13-15
For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2Pe 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

1Th 5:2
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

the only "Lord's day" references

Re 1:10
On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.

"first day of the week" references

Mt 28:1
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

Mr 16:2
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb.

Mr 16:9
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.

Lu 24:1
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

Joh 20:1
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

Joh 20:19
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, Peace be with you!"

Ac 20:7
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

1Co 16:2
On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. And here are the early church references to the phrase "Lord's Day"

writings from the early church

From the epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians:
If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death — whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master — how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, whom the children of perdition, the enemies of the Savior, deny, “whose God is their belly, who mind earthly things,” who are “lovers of pleasure, and not lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

From the epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians:
At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Sabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection.

From the epistle of Ignatius to the Phillipians:
If any one fasts on the Lord’s Day or on the Sabbath, except on the paschal Sabbath only, he is a murderer of Christ.

from the fragments of the lost writings of Iraneus:
This [custom], of not bending the knee upon Sunday, is a symbol of the resurrection, through which we have been set free, by the grace of Christ, from sins, and from death, which has been put to death under Him. Now this custom took its rise from apostolic times, as the blessed Irenaeus, the martyr and bishop of Lyons, declares in his treatise On Easter, in which he makes mention of Pentecost also; upon which [feast] we do not bend the knee, because it is of equal significance with the Lord’s day, for the reason already alleged concerning it.

from Clement of Alexandria's The Instructor:
He states that the "the Christian Passover and the weekly Lord’s Day" are one of the areas that Christians are different for Jews.

from Clement of Alexandria's Stromata:
He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord’s day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself.

From Tertullian:
"We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord’s day to be unlawful. We rejoice in the same privilege also from Easter to Whitsunday."

"We kneel at other times, but on the Lord’s day, and from the
Paschal Feast to Pentecost we stand in prayer, nor do we count it lawful to fast on Sundays."

from Origen against Celsus:
"If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as for example the Lord’s day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost, I have to answer, that to the perfect Christian, who is ever in his thoughts, words, and deeds serving his natural Lord, God the Word, all his days are the Lord’s, and he is always keeping the
Lord’s day."

from the Epistles of Cyprian:
"For because the eighth day, that
is, the first day after the Sabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the spirit, the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us."

from the the Canonical Epistle of Peter:
"No one shall find fault with us for observing the fourth day of the week, and the preparation, on which it is reasonably enjoined us to fast according to the tradition. On the fourth day, indeed, because on it the Jews took counsel for the betrayal of the Lord; and on the sixth, because on it He himself suffered for us. But the Lord’s day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it He rose again, on which day we have received it for a custom not even to bow the knee...But on the Lord’s day we ought not to fast, for it is a day of joy for the resurrection of the Lord, and on it, says he, we have received that we ought not even to bow the knee."

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the Myth of a Christian nation, our American Citizenship, and our Citizenship in the Kingdom of God

Troy replied to my post on America diplomacy and our status as a "Christian" nation:
I understand the point of your post, but how can we even claim to be a "Christian" nation when we've played our part in murdering 50 million babies through abortion; quite legally I might add. That's enough human lives to repopulate Ft. Wayne close to 170 times. It looks as if gay marriage will be accepted sooner as opposed to later. They're already getting marriage treatment from some employers. I'm not trying to be cynical. Just wondering when we'll stop claiming to be something we're not. And I do agree that diplomacy should always be the first attempt to resolve an issue.

I am in complete agreement with you on our status as a "Christian" nation. We are not one, nor do I ever think that we were one. The sooner the church recognizes that, the healthier the church will be. Unfortunately, it seems that we aren't close to throwing off our attempt at making the American nation a Christian nation or separating the church from our American nation.

The November 2006 Restoration Herald (not available online except through a subscription fee) had an article that focused on that. Here is a relevant excerpt:
Today's religious syncretism is the blending of nationalism and partisan politics with religion. It seems to have begun after WWI in the revival sermons of Billy Sunday who would often say, "Christianity and patriotism are synonymous terms" and, when the spirit moved him, would jump up on a pulpit and wave an American flag at the end of a revivalist sermon...You now see this kind of religion wherever you go. On any given Sunday worship service or educational hour one is as apt to hear references to the ranting of a radio or cable television political commentator as one is apt to hear a reference to scripture. The American flag proudly waves in the breeze on the church flagpole atop the smaller, more humble, Christian flag. The minister stands behind a pulpit that is strategically placed so as to highlight the American flag which is usually seen over the preacher's right shoulder. Political preachers quote the constitution as holy writ while they view its Bill of Rights as license and declare cultural war on the judicial institution the document created to interpret its laws. In some churches, the worship of God includes a pledge of allegiance to the American flag where people, regardless of their nationality or citizenship, must stand and declare their allegiance to an earthly country instead of the heavenly one for which the writer of Hebrews tells us the faithful should be looking. In many churches the Boy Scouts march the flag up the aisle on Memorial Day. The few of us in the congregation who have actually served in the military during war are asked to stand to the enthusiastic applause of the patriotic multitude...War is glorified and one is generally left with the impression that any American who killed and died in war has been rewarded with a free pass to heaven. In many churches, your credentials as a Christian are judged every bit as much by which political party and issues you support as by your devotion to the philosophy of Christ.
I wanted to write, "We should encourage our nation to adhere to Christian standards as much as possible." Then I wondered, what is the purpose of making people that aren't Christians live up to Christian standards. It seems rather pointless. We should not lose the focus of our mission of establishing Christ's kingdom here on earth. If we succeed in our mission, then our nation will adhere to Christian principles.

Once the war in Iraq began, it seems that most churches began praying for "the world's leaders" and our troops. We still hear those prayers in church today. What those prayers usually mean is that we pray that our troops are victorious (see my post on Mark Twain’s War Prayer) and that George Bush has wisdom. The practice of praying for our nation and world leaders is healthy; it's our implementation of it that seems rather unhealthy.

When we pray for the world's leaders, we need to also pray for the leaders who do not share our stance in the world. I have yet to hear a prayer for Kim Jong-Il or Osama Bin Laden in church. We have a tendency to pray only for those people we like and not pray for those who disagree with us. If we do pray for those we dislike, it is usually to heap condemnation on them.

We need to take seriously the calling to be a people of God without national borders. Our fellow citizens reside in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and all around the world. God's kingdom is our nation of primary citizenship. We are aliens in this world no matter what nation with borders we are born in because our true citizenship resides in God’s kingdom.

Before residing in the Promised Land, the Israelites were aliens in Egypt:
And God spoke in these terms, that his descendants would be resident aliens in a country belonging to others, who would enslave them and mistreat them during four hundred years. "But I will judge the nation that they serve,' said God, "and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place (Acts 7:6-7). 

Paul used similar language in his letter to describe the status of Christian citizenship when he wrote to the church in Ephesus.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God (Ephesians 2:19-22).

We are aliens visiting the nations of this world. We have no borders to defend with missiles and guns. Our citizenship is in heaven and shared with people throughout the world. We defend this nation with love.

We have a common citizenship with others, but no land to call our home. Fellow citizenship is one of the glorious aspects of the kingdom that is a reality now. However, we are still waiting for the perfect earth that will be ours to inhabit in the future.

Nowhere in Scripture is it written that we are to be superpatriotic. A lot of the times the following verse seems to be misinterpreted to say that.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing (Romans 13:1-6).

The key word is "subject". We would not have to be in subjection if we were in agreement. Subjection implies we do not like what is going on. Here is a good essay I read on the subject of subject.

I want to leave with a story. When I was a youth pastor in Alma, there was an American flag that stood on the stage in the front of the church. I was disgusted by it. Not because of a hatred of America but because America - the land of abortions, annihilation of the Indians, and many other acts that are a disgrace to associate with the will of God - doesn't deserve a place in the church. God’s kingdom is a much greater nation than America. The minister agreed with me. One Saturday night we moved the flag from the sanctuary up to the storage closet. It stayed there for around six months. During that time, the minister that helped me in the secret mission left and a new minister who was an armed forces veteran was hired. It became a semi-big stir after another veteran brought up that he missed the flag. I was asked if I knew where it was. I told them the story of the secret mission in the dark of night and reluctantly revealed its new top-secret location. The flag was returned to the sanctuary where it stands (as of my last visit there) proudly to this day.

Disclaimer: I like America. I like that I can go to a house of worship without the risk of getting arrested. True, some psychotic lunatic could walk in with a toothpick, pocket knife, machete, or an automatic weapon and do us in, but we do not have the government to worry about. I like some of the overplayed patriotic country songs and even songs like America, the Beautiful. I admire some of the Presidents we have had. I like apple pie, but I try not to eat much wheat because I'm sensitive to it. I like baseball, but I threw my arm out somewhere along the road and can no longer play. I like fields of grain except during allergy season. I like sunny skies except when I get too much sun and have a sun burn that itches like the poison ivy. Poison ivy grows out of American dirt, but I don’t hold that against America. Overall, I like America and my life here.

On the flip side, I believe that God still punishes people based upon their nation and its faithfulness to God. We are linked to the blessings or curses on the groups of people we are part of. There are many changes that need to be done if this nation wants to be pleasing to God.

Watch out for the potholes.

What Is Really The Good News Taught By Jesus? - The Gospel Is The Kingdom

What is the good news of the New Testament? That is a question I always thought had a simple answer: "Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we might have a proper relationship with him." Although, that statement is true, it is not the good news as it is described in the New Testament. I have compiled the relevant Scriptures here so you can decide for yourself. If I'm wrong, let me know because I like to know the truth.

I will post a verse and then follow that up with some commentary when I feel the need. The asterix marks more "relevant" verses.
Matt 4:17 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”

Early in his ministry Jesus started talking about the coming kingdom. This kingdom had been what people throughout the Old Testament had been waiting for. This kingdom would be a blessing to the world. It would finally be the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: "Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." The kingdom that would bless the whole world was near! The people of Israel were expecting this, and Jesus’ proclamation that it was near was good news.

Matt 4:23 “Jesus went…preaching the good news of the kingdom”

Jesus' message could have so easily been the message of his death and the forgiveness of sins, but that isn't what he focused on. He focused on the good news of the kingdom.

*Matt 6:33 “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”

Our striving needs to be for things of the kingdom, not for selfish spiritual things or our own enjoyment. Our lives should not be about us but about God’s kingdom.

Matt 9:35 “Jesus went…preaching the good news of the kingdom”

Did Jesus go around preaching grace? Maybe. Did he go around preaching faith? At times. But what does this section of Scripture show that he preached - "the good news of the kingdom." Up until four years ago I had never heard, or at least consciously acknowledged hearing, the message of the kingdom of God. The gospel focused on Jesus giving us the forgiveness of sins and entry into heaven. However, that is not what the living and breathing Jesus taught. We seem to (maybe subconsciously) think we have better messages than the one Jesus taught, ones that might be more relevant or palatable to the souls of those around us. We need to get back to discovering the message of the kingdom that Jesus preached and start living it and proclaiming it from the rooftops, soapboxes, and pulpits.

*Matt 10:7 “Preach this message: ‘the kingdom of heaven is near’”

Jesus has the twelve and he is getting ready to send them out for the first time. It was like the moment before the big game where the coach would make or break his legacy by giving his team a motivational speech and instructions for the game ahead. During the pregame locker room speech Jesus recapped the important stuff for their first journey out. His mission on earth rested in the hands of those twelve that he was talking to. What did he tell them to preach? He tells them to preach the message of the kingdom of heaven. Maybe, we should follow suit and preach that same message.

Mark 1:14-15 “Jesus went…proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come…The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.’”

*Mark 9:1 “There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

This verse used to be one of those verses that made absolutely no sense to me. Jesus told people that the kingdom of God will come before some of those people standing in that crowd tasted death. If it hasn’t appeared yet, then some in that crowd would have to still be alive or Jesus was a liar.

However, Jesus is not a liar. The kingdom has come. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth when he established his Church. The Church and anywhere that God’s will breaks through into our reality is where the kingdom of God resides. We are part of the kingdom when we surrender to Jesus’ kingship and become active members in bringing His will into reality.

The event everyone in the Old Testament was waiting for has happened. We are so blessed to be part of it. Some of those people that Jesus talked to saw the kingdom of God come with power, and it is still here.

Mark 11:10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David”

*Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Here we have a list of some of the elements of God's kingdom. In God's kingdom the poor will hear the good news. The blind will receive sight and the oppressed will be freed. Sometimes we think that we do not see these events happening here on earth as they should in God's kingdom. That is true. God’s kingdom is not fully here, yet it is breaking through. A day will come when God's kingdom will arrive in its complete fullness. Until then, we are left with God's kingdom being one of many kingdoms on earth. We need to bring God’s will and His kingdom into our reality as much as possible. We need to preach the good news to the poor. We need to help the blind see. We need to help free those who are oppressed. We are the people on the ground to bring about God's kingdom.

*Luke 4:43 “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent”

Jesus stated that the reason he was sent here was to preach the good news of the kingdom. We are often taught that the reason he was sent was to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins; however, that isn't what he said. He said that he came to preach the good news of the kingdom. His death on the cross is part of that bigger framework, not the goal. We should not make his death and resurrection the framework or else we miss the larger picture. The death and resurrection are glorious things indeed, but they are not why Jesus was sent. Jesus was sent to preach and bring about the kingdom.

Luke 8:1 “Jesus traveled…proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God”

Luke 9:11 “He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God”

Luke 9:60 “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another example of Jesus telling another person to go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62 “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Being part of the kingdom of God is the goal. That is what people were worried about being part of.

Luke 10:9 “Tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”

Luke 10:11 “The kingdom of God is near”

Luke 16:16 “The good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

*Luke 17:20-21 “Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact the kingdom of God is among you.”

The kingdom of God, the kingdom we are citizens of, is "not coming with things that can be observed." This physical, yet invisible kingdom is not what the Israelites were expecting when the Messiah would come. If I was a Pharisee, I would’ve replied to Jesus, "You mean to tell me that you're going to start a kingdom but that kingdom isn't going to be visible. That is not a kingdom. You say it is already here? I see Roman soldiers just down the street. How can you say the kingdom is here among us when I see the Roman kingdom all around me?"

God does not always do what is viewed as "rational". He had Gideon lower his army from 32,000 to 500 before invading another nation. He had Joshua march around Jericho blowing trumpets in order to defeat them. He saved the world by having Jesus die on a cross. In hindsight his acts are glorious, just like his kingdom. But at the time, they seem to be a little off.

The kingdom of God was there among them and is here among us. Although I live in America, my true citizenship is in another kingdom. All of us who profess to follow Christ need to realize that we are part of a kingdom that is among us. Our nationality belongs to God, not to any of the kingdoms of this world. Jesus’ kingdom might not have physical borders or a common language, but it is a kingdom nonetheless, a kingdom unlike any other.

Luke 18:28-30 “I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

People will do things for the sake of the kingdom of God. By this point I'm sure that you are realizing that the kingdom of God is a message of importance to Jesus.

*Acts 1:3 “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

Jesus raises from the dead and spends time teaching his disciples. This is really the final huddle. It's the last play in the Super Bowl. The quarterback has only a short time to motivate his players before they have to break and run the play that will decide the fate of the game. Their whole season depends on it. The quarterback reminds them of the most important thing. What did Jesus remind them of in a similar case? It wasn't the theological significance of his death on the cross. It wasn't his miracles. It wasn't his resurrection. Those things all fit in the context of the message of the kingdom of God. One last moment with the people he placed the future of his mission to, and the Bible records that he spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 8:12 “He (Philip) preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.”

The message of the kingdom begins to be preached by those who are the early Christ followers.

Acts 19:8 “Paul…arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.”

Paul preached about the kingdom of God.

Acts 28:23 “From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets.”

Acts 28:30-31 "And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered."

We see more examples that Paul preached the kingdom of God. That was the goal of all the stories of Jesus' life. That is the good news that Jesus himself preached, and Paul continued to preach it.

Rom 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

*I Cor 15:24-25 “Then comes the end, when he (Christ) hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put al l his enemies under his feet.”

It's at the time when the kingdom is handed over to the Father that the kingdom will be fully and completely here. Until then, we will live in a kingdom that has no boundaries, a kingdom that is just a foretaste of the greater kingdom to come, yet it is still the kingdom.

*Rev 1:5-6 “To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father.”

We are priests in this kingdom. There are no soldiers, no union workers, no corporate executives, no janitors, no policemen, just priests.

Rev 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”
What a glorious day that will be!

A Novel Idea - Powell Suggests that America and Bush Should talk to Iran

The news headline reads:

Powell says U.S. should talk to Iran, not attack

Luke 6
27 But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

It's about time.

I find it sadly ironic that we try to act like we are a "Christian" nation with a "Christian" leader when we treat our enemies the way we do. We need a lot of work in the international arena if we are to consider the way we operate as a nation to be "Christian".

Watch out for the potholes.