Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the beginning, God...

With these four words of great expectation we begin our 2010 Blog through the Bible with a special focus on the Kingdom of God...

1. In the beginning,...There is a beginning for everything we know except for God Himself. Angels have a beginning. Principalities have a beginning. You and I have a beginning. But not God. Even the Kingdom has a beginning for in the beginning, there was the King but no subjects, no hearts to rule in and through. In His perfectness and wisdom, the King created everything and thus established a place and people for His Kingdom to come forth!

2. In the beginning, God...We know that God is community in the beginning in that he was Father, Son and Spirit; the perfect three in one yet one. And we know His desire to create out of love, for love and in love, a creation that would come from His deepest heart, which He would love and woo for it to love Him back. In His divine wisdom, He would endow the pinnacle of His creation with a free will to choose to have a relationship and community with Himself or not.

3. In the beginning, God created...In truth, the genesis of God's Kingdom, His rule and reign, definitely begins in the heart of God. But it is manifested and made possible by the creative love of God. From the Eternal with no beginning or end, flows the creation of both eternal and temporal. The eternal created are the unseen but true things such as angels, principalities, the true Kingdom of God and you and I, our souls. The temporal are the things seen such as our bodies, this present earth, and heavens. The eternal created things (angels, you, the true Kingdom) have this in common: they have a beginning but no end. The Eternal God, with no beginning or end, gives a beginning from His creative heart, His very self, to the true things that also will have no end. He also creates the temporal (things with a beginning and end) to serve as a model, a perfecting stage and even a battleground, in His longing for a race of beings who love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds.

Thus, with the first four word of Genesis, we have the setting for the Kingdom of God coming forth in the world. God is the King with no beginning or end. Yet He creates a race of beings for His Kingdom to come forth in. He creates them to be eternal and temporal whereby the temporal is the place He will use beauty, trials, and truth, among other things, to draw His creation back into the realm of His Kingdom, His rule.

As we walk through the Bible and God's revelation of His Kingdom, we will never find the King forcing Himself upon His creation/His subjects but gently calling, sometimes sharply punishing and in many cases truthfully confronting them in order to bring about His eternal Kingdom in their hearts and lives.

Stay tuned....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Foundation for Kingdom Studies...

The idea or concept of the Kingdom of God in the Bible originates in the heart of God. God has no beginning and has no end. He has always been: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. From the creation of the angels, who were the first subjects of His Kingdom, to the creation of heaven, earth and man, and ultimately the coming of the new heaven and earth, God's Kingdom is one of the scarlet threads that run as a theme of the whole of history.

The word "kingdom" comes from the Hebrew 'basileia', a noun, denoting "sovereignty, royal power, dominion; the territory or people over whom a king rules. Thus the Kingdom of God is the sphere of God's rule and sphere in which, at any given time, His rule is acknowledged."

According to Conner in his classic work 'Christian Doctrine', there are five stages of Biblical thought and development:

1. The universal sovereignty of God. God is creator of all and sovereign to all. He is sovereign over creation and particularly mankind. There is only one true God and He is sovereign over the entire universe. He reigns supremely over all nations and all individuals and each is subject to Him and His judgment. There is nothing or no one that is exempt from His sovereign rule.

2. The theocratic Kingdom of Israel. God selected Abraham, entered into a covenant relationship with he and his descendants and promised to give them a land as well as make them a great nation which in turn would be a blessing to the whole world. God chose and had a purpose for the people of Israel to be His chosen, peculiar people.

3. The spiritual Kingdom founded by Jesus. God promised David that a descendant of his would reign on the throne forever. He fulfilled this promise in the person of Jesus Christ even though He was not recognized by his chosen people Israel. Jesus, in establishing His spiritual Kingdom, gave relevance and fulfillment to the theocracy of the Old Testament. Jesus came to earth as the "Savior-King". He initiated the Kingdom of God on earth ushering in a reign of peace and righteousness not understood by the world. In His Kingdom, He saves men from sin and reconciles them to God as well as to one another.

4. His Kingdom as a progressive power in the world. The Kingdom has come in power with Jesus. However, as the mustard seed must develop so must the Kingdom of God in this world. This is accomplished primarily through the preaching and demonstration of the good news of the Kingdom.

5. The eternal Kingdom of God. The final stage of the Kingdom is the eternal Kingdom. It is to be finally established at the second coming of the King, Jesus Christ. It will consummate all of history and usher in God's planned rule since the beginning of time.

So, our journey this coming year, walking through the Bible and looking at the theme of God's Kingdom, will hopefully be a discovery of the foundational story of God's Word: His Kingdom coming and His will being done.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Plans for 2010 Blog

First of all, let me apologize to everyone. It has been a couple of months since my last blog. I came to a natural end of a topic being discussed and then got busy in travel and work and thus dropped our pursuit of seeing what the Kingdom of God looks like in our everyday lives. After reflecting over what has been written and thinking about next year, I have an idea of where I want to go next. I would like to hear from you and what you think about it.

Ever since my freshman year in college, I have read through the Bible at least one time each year. After my 33rd birthday, I felt led to read through the Bible (as a discipline) two times per year. Combined with my prayer time and other devotional reading, this "walking through the Bible" has become a cornerstone of my daily devotional life. By my reckoning, I have now read through the Bible 49 times. Since the 50th year in the Bible is the Year of Jubilee, I sense God leading me to do something a little different this year.

Here's what I propose. I am feeling led to walk through the Bible this year and journal what I see that relates to the Kingdom of God in each day's passage. I plan to read and pray over about 5 pages (5 to 7 chapters) of the Bible each day. I will start with Genesis chapter 1:1 and read/pray straight through to Revelation 22:21. Then, I will journal/blog each Sunday or Monday and share with you what I see God saying in regards to His Kingdom.

If God's Kingdom is the central theme of His word, then it should be a thread that runs through His whole word. And I believe it so here's a chance to prove or disprove my bias and impression of what God is saying (and doing) through His word.

I would appreciate your thoughts, reflections, encouragements along this line. I am planning for my first post to be shortly after the first of the new year.

Blessings to all! I would love to hear you thoughts...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Timing: The sixth tool of Reconciliation

Truth, Touch, Transparency, Tenderness and Toughness: all tools that Jesus used in brining the message and fact or reconciliation to those who were need of a Savior. The sixth and final installment of these tools is "Timing".

I think that the timing of Jesus in the way and the approach in which he applied the first five tools was critical to the one in need of reconciliation. As Jesus met people, he was always about proclaiming the Kingdom whether in word or in deed. Being God incarnate, he was also constantly alternating between the method he used based upon the situation at hand and particularly the present need in the life of those he encountered. When he encountered the demon possessed, he spoke a word o truth and authority into their lives bringing about healing and restoration. In many cases, he was able to immediately return these people to their families, restored, healed and whole.

At other times he encountered those with great ailment of heart. He spoke words of tenderness and compassion to them giving them hope and encouragement to face the day and their tomorrows. Still at other times, he reached out and touched the physical ailments of the sick, the diseased, the disfigured, the lepers and proclaimed to them the Kingdom. While still at other times, he confronted the proud and the hypocrites with the stark truth of their shortcomings and need for a born again heart, mind and soul.

It intrigues me that Jesus seemed to know the exact approach to use at the exact moment an opportunity for ministry arose. And I could dismiss this and say, "sure, He was God and had an insight that I don't have (which is true)". But I can't escape the nagging feeling that through submission to him, walking in his spirit and the fact that he lives in my heart through his Holy Spirit, that he gives me more insight and abilities to apply these different tools or reconciliation than I actually acknowledge or attempt to use.

Jesus said through Luke the doctor that the Kingdom of God is within us. Paul said it as the great mystery being revealed which is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

I believe that if we walk in the spirit as he is in the spirit, God will bring to mind and forefront all of these tools of reconciliation if only we will listen, follow and apply. If we will live in a way that we never again see people as mere people but eternal souls with struggles, joys, victories, defeats and a keen need for a reconciliation with God, with others, with nature and with their own selves, we will be more proactive in seeing God in our situations/relationships and finding the appropriate timing for utilizing Jesus's tools of reconciliation.

The problem is not that we haven't been given the tools and even the ability to use the tools. The problem that I have found is within me: walking with God and actively seeking and promoting reconciled relationships (on all levels) in everything I do.

What would our world around us look like if we took seriously the role of being reconcilers on all levels discussed? What would our relationships look like if reconciliation was in the forefront of our hearts, minds and actions each moment? What if our annual work plans were thrown out the window and we we simply strived to promote right relationships with all we meet/work with/come in contact with?

Would it look more like the Kingdom of God?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Toughness: The Fifth Tool of Reconciliation

Jesus used truth to bring people into a right relationship with the Father. He also touched them and healed them to point them in the same direction. At times, he was utterly transparent in telling people the way to God. While at other times, he was totally tender, having compassion on the lost, the least and the helpless. But there was another side to Jesus. In many situations, he was tough or used what we call today, “tough love”.

There is a role for tough love in the ministry of reconciliation. While some of us tenderhearted may shy away from this approach (while others might gravitate towards it), it definitely a method that Jesus used.

He was especially tough on the religious leaders of His time. He used terms for them such as “wicked and adulterous generation” and “brood of vipers.” (Matthew 12:39; 12:34) He pronounced upon the teachers of the law and Pharisees the seven woes (Matthew 23). He was constantly confronting them on issues such as healing on the Sabbath (Luke 5:17-6:11), right action in God’s temple (John 2:16), or the clean/unclean debate. (Matthew 15:1-20)

He was hard on the wealthy. He proclaimed, “blessed are the poor” (Luke 20) and then confronted a rich young man who expressed desire to follow after him. (Matthew 19:16-20) And, at times He was tough on the poor as well. When a Canaanite woman approached Him for help for her daughter, Jesus answered, “I only sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” (Matthew 15:21-28)

But Jesus was also tough on those who loved Him and followed Him. When his mother and brothers wanted to speak with Him, he said, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Here (they) are…whoever does the will of my Father in heaven…” (Matthew 12:46-50) He even seemed to reserve the especially “tough love” for his disciples, His closest followers.

He chastised them for having too little faith. (Matthew 16:5-12) He rebuked His chief disciple, Peter, by saying, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:21-28) He taught the “toughness” of following Him by saying, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…” He constantly reminded His listeners to “count the cost” if they so wished to follow Him. (Luke 9:57-62)In fact, His teaching was so blunt and hard, that many of His followers turned back. (John 6:66)

There was no ill will in Jesus’ tough approaches to reconciliation. If anything, Jesus knew the consequences of people who were non-reconcilers. He knew the heart and the need for “tough love” at particular points in people’s lives. And He effectively used it as a tool of reconciliation.

Next topic: Timing as the sixth tool for reconciliation…

Until then, Shalom!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tenderness: The Fourth Tool of Reconciliation

We’ve talked about the first three tools Jesus used in His ministry of reconciling others to Himself: truth, touch, and transparency. Now it is time to talk about tenderness, the fourth tool of reconciliation.

There are times in the gospel where Jesus is amazingly tender to those in need of His touch. Matthew tells us that once when Jesus was teaching, preaching and healing, we was filled with compassion for the crowds, “…because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 22:36) Once when the disciples tried to protect Jesus by shooing away people who were bringing their little children for Jesus to touch, Jesus became indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,…” (Mark 10:14)

Another time, as Jesus was teaching on a mountainside, great crowds had come bringing, “the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others.” It was getting late and Jesus said to His disciples, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hunger, or they may collapse on the way.” And he promptly used what was on hand to feed four thousand. (Matthew 15:32).

And, when Jesus saw where they had buried his friend Lazarus, he wept. (John 11:35)

Time and again we see the tenderness of Jesus coming through to minister to those in need and point them to the everlasting Father who cares for all. Never should we make the mistake to believe that Jesus’ display of compassion was in any form a weakness. His tenderness for those broken, those in need, and those in need of reconciliation, was a perfect picture of God the Father and his love for His creation.

Some people of the world serve a terrible and angry God. And while our God is just, awesome, holy and righteous beyond righteousness, He is also a tender, loving God who aggressively seeks those who have lost their way. He is unequivocally on the side of the poor and the needy ready to tenderly call out and reach out to those who need Him and will respond to his overtures of love.

This is good news: God of all creation reaches out to us in tenderness to reconcile us to Himself.

Pretty amazing stuff!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Transparency: The Third Tool of Reconciliation

By far, the first two tools of reconiliation already discussed (truth and touch) are the most employed and modeled in the life of Jesus. The next four tools that we will discuss (transparency, tenderness, toughness, and timing) are minor in comparison and in number of occurences/uses in the scriptures. However, they are models nevertheless and are worth mentioning and exploring.

Perhaps the best example of Jesus' use of transparency for reconciliation occurs in John chapter 4. It is the story of his encounter with the Samaritan woman whom he met at the well. He and his disciples had left Judea and were on their way back to Galilee and so they passed through Samaria. Coming to the town of Sychar, Jesus decided to take a rest by Jacob's well. His disciples had gone ahead into the town to buy food but Jesus stayed behind because he was tired from the journey.

As he was resting, a Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink. She responded by saying he would not ask of her if he knew who she was because she was Samaritan and he was a Jew.

Jesus first confronts her in the process of reconciliation with a truth encounter. Of course he knew who she was. He knew everything about her. He even knew about her five previous husbands and the man she was currently living with. And when she acknowledged that he was a prophet (her words), she also confronted him with a question about where and how to worship.

Jesus' response was to tell her that a time was coming when all true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. To which she says, "I know that coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." To which Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." Transparency with a capital "T".

As to why Jesus chose at this moment, in this particular place, to this particular woman to be transparent and boldly proclaim that he was the Messiah, we can only speculate. However, we can know without a shadow of a doubt that he was employing utter transparency in this act and it has an astonishing affect in the woman's life. Later on in the chapter, we are told that "many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony. "He told me everything I ever did."

So, the Samaritans went for themselves to see Jesus and he stayed with them 2 days because of their urging. And because of his words many more became believers. To show the strength of his transparent ministry of reconciliation first to the woman, the people of the town said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this many really is the Savior of the world."

There were times that Jesus was very tranparent with people in order to lead them into right relationships with God the Father. This story is but one example.

Next time: tenderness as a tool of reconciliation.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Touch - The Second Tool of Reconciliation

Continuing our discussion about the tools of reconciliation found in the Bible, we discussed truth as the first tool. This brings us to the second tool: touch.

Have you noticed in the Bible what Jesus did in most of his encounters with people in need? He touched them where they hurt. With the lepers, he touched them when no one else would go near them (Mark 1:41). With the blind, he touched their eyes (John 9:6). For the crippled, he touched the place they suffered (Luke 13:13). When Simon Peter's mother in law lay sick in bed, he took her by the hand and she was able to arise and begin serving him (Matthew 8:15). A woman sick for 12 years simply touched the hem of his cloak and was healed (Matthew 9:18). And a father, whose daughter had just died, came to Jesus and cried, "...But if you come and put your hand on her,...she will live!" And Jesus did go, took her by the hand and she lived. (Matthew 9:25)

We live in a world that needs to hear the truth about Jesus. We also live in a world that needs to see and feel the touch of Jesus as well. Time and time again, Jesus touched people at their deepest need and he used that opportunity to speak truth in their lives. His proclamation of God's truth was validated in his demontration of God's love. Moreover, his demonstration of God's love through his healing touch was a visible sign of his proclamation of the Kingdom of God coming.

I see no evidence in the Bible of Jesus choosing one over the other: preaching or healing. I see plenty of evidence that he did these simultaneously, based on the need at hand and saw both of these as means to the same end: proclaiming and showing that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand.

We often fondly quote Isaiah 55:11 as, "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

I think it proper to acknowledget that the touch of God through the Name of Jesus does not return back empty as well. In a world where 3 out of every 4 lost persons alive today live in the 10/40 window and considering that 4 out of every 5 of the poorest of the poor, those affected by war and conflict and those living on less than 2 dollars per day, live in that same window, we dare not overlook the touch aspect of the ministry of reconciliation.

We do speak truth to the nations and to lives that are in need of a Saviour, Jesus. We also are to touch those lives in the same Name, demonstrating God's love and His plan for individuals, communities and nations.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interlude - A New Song "The Power of Your Name" by Lincoln Brewster

This past Sunday, I had the privilege to share at Faith Methodist here in Singapore. They are in a month long focus on international minsitry opportunities and I delivered messages about transforming communities on Sunday morning to the youth and then to one of the adult congregations. In the afternoon, a colleague and I shared about practical, holistic ministry tools that they could use in their international missions efforts.

During the Sunday morning worship, we heard the worship leader share the theme song that they have chosen for their ministry month and it was the first time I had heard it. It is called, "The Power of Your Name" and is written by Lincoln Brewster. It goes...

"Surely children were not made for the streets
And fathers were not made to leave
Surely this isn't how it should be
Let Your Kingdom come!"

"Surely nations were not made for war
Or the broken meant to be ignored
Surely this just can't be what you saw
Let Your Kingdom in my heart!"

"I will live, To carry Your compassion
To love a world that's broken
To be Your hands and feet
I will give, With the life that I've been given
And go beyond religion
To see the world be changed
By the power of Your name"

"Surely life wasn't made to forget
And the lost were not made to forget
Surely faith without action is dead
By the power of Your name"

What a great song demonstrating the truth that God's desire for us is goodness and wholeness; not the brokeness and heartache that we see in the pattern of the world.

We are called to be ambassadors: ambassadors of compassion, ambassadors of wholeness, and, most assuredly, ambassadors of the ever loving and ever seeking God!

Yes, Lord! Let Your Kingdom come!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More On Truth as a Tool of Reconciliation

Let me expound a little more about the concept of truth as a tool in the ministry of reconciliation before we move on to the second tool.

In the great story of God, there is a deciever, Satan, who constantly works to discredit God's truth. In fact, "when he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44) The truth is that God has created us and everything for himself. He desires for us to be in fellowship with himself and one another. His desire for us is an abundant life whereby we hear and respond to the voice of his son, Jesus, the good shepherd.

We live in a fallen world which is entangled in a web of lies. The enemy, Satan, is happy to have people believing in false gods, in no god or even in an incorrect view of who god actually and truthfully is. He is happy to have people accept less than the truth that God desires for our relationships with others. He delights in the falsehood that there cannot be happy marriages, godly families, communities where people care for one another and respectfully care for creation. And he is estatic to lead people to a marred self-image of who they are and how valuable they are to God the Father. In short, Satan is a weaver of the web of lies and uses this web as his main mode of operations to keep people and even nations in darkness.

This is why we stress truth as the first tool of our efforts at reconciliation. Speaking and living truth about who God is and who we are in relation to him is critical to break the web of lies that would so readily entangle us.

And it is not just any truth that we speak. It is the truth that God reveals through his word, the basis for all truth. His word is a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105) It is the truth that is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividng soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

Speaking and living truth to a lost and dying world blindly tangled in a web of lies...the first tool of reconciliation...

Next tool of reconciliation - touch...

The Tools of Reconciliation: Truth

Picking up from our last blog, I would like to begin talking about the tools of reconciliation modeled by Jesus. The first is truth.

Jesus had a unique way of always bringing back the conversation at hand to the truth of the matter. Not only did he speak the truth but he was actually the truth in flesh. He told his disciples that if they would hold to his teaching, "then you will now the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)He also proclaimed to them that, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Time and time again, he used truth to confront those who spoke and thought errantly. Sometimes it was the religious leaders of his day. "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58) Other times it was to his own disciples. When Peter swore his undying allegiance to Jesus and pledged to lay down his life for him, Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" (John 13:38)

Truth and speaking the truth into situations can be a powerful tool in our efforts at reconciliation to all levels of relationships that we deal with daily.

1. Man to God - So many people today have an incorrect view of who God is, if there is a God or if there is a whole pantheon of gods. To many, God or "the gods" are far removed from humans if he/they exist at all. To others, they have bought into the postmodern idea that we can basically make God who we want him to be or even can become our own god thus finding the salvation to all our needs within our own selves. The truth of who God is in the Bible cries out for us to speak truth in our efforts at reconciliation. God is sovereign, creator and ruler over everything. He is all powerful, all knowing and ever compassionate. He is merciful but just. He is holy and awesome yet personable and approachable. He is good and loving and righteous by nature. He has created us for his own good pleasure and our lives are fulfilled as we live to obey and please him. In a world with so many differing views of who God is, we should speak (and live) the truth as his "ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through reconciled to God!" (2 Corinthians 5:20) Jesus came to show us, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who God is and how he truly loves us. He was God in flesh. Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father..." to which Jesus replied, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." Pointing others to who God really is, Jesus, is truth reconciliation.

2. Man to fellow man - The truth that we should speak here is that God's plan for our relationship with others is wholesome and mutually nurturing. God does not desire broken families. God finds no delight in people addicted to drugs, alcolhol, pornography, etc. Poverty, sickness and pain is not in God's heart for people. The reconciliation truth is that all of these things have come about because of mans' choices. See what Jesus did when he came in contact with people in need. He touched them where they hurt. To the blind, he touched their eyes. To the lame, he touched their legs. He took the sick by the hand. He spoke with authority to those demon possessed and touched their souls. The reconciliation truth is that God desires abundance in our relationship with others through the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

3. Man to creation - The truth that we speak and live here is that everything created by God has a special place in his heart. And we have been given the great and precious privlege of being assigned the task of stewardship of creation. To "care for" creation. Thus natural resources are not something we are to conquer, subdue and abuse, but rather something to be honored and cared for in a way that gives glory back to the owner creator. Jesus recognized the significance of God's creation. He was constantly using the simple illustrations of nature to communicate eternal principles to his followers. He urged them to, "Look at the birds of the air..." and "see how the lilies of the field grow". (Matthew 6:26, 28)

4. Man to himself - Those entrapped in sin and struggling in the multiple untruths of life, often have marred identities in regards to themselves. Poverty can convince a person that they are nothing and cannot help themselves. A life trapped in the evils of drugs, prostitution, or any dozen traps spiraling out of control, can convince a person that they are worthless, unloveable and beyond help. The reconciliation truth to those who have lost hope is that they, like all of us, have a divine spark in our lives in that we all are created in the image of God. The world tells a down and outter that they are nothing, that they are worthless. God truth says that they are somebody, created in his image, worthy to the point that God gave his only begotten son to die for them. The reconciliation truth we speak to those who are mired in the world is that God sees them in a whole different light than they see themselves and who they are at the moment is not the true person God has created them to be. With his help, they can become a new creation.

The ministry of reconciliation; the tool of truth...

Next blog, the tool of touch...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ministry of Reconciliation

So, entrusted to us is the ministry of reconciliation. Since reconciliation basically means to change from enmity to friendship, i.e. resorting relationships to their rightful place, we should look closer at this word and concept in the Bible.

Reconciliation is something God accomplishes through grace on our behalf. God invites you and I, through His Son Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, to be reconciled unto Himself. It is something God has done for us and something we have to be willing to receive.

Never is God in need of reconciliation to us. He has no enmity towards us. The enmity is solely on our part and is a result of the orignal fall and choices made by our forefathers, Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Make no mistake, first and foremost, it is us that are in need of reconciliation to God.

Hand in hand with this concept of the fall and the breaking of man's vertical relationship with God, are the horizontal relationships that were broken at the fall and are in need of the touch of reconciliation: man to fellow man, man to creation and man to himself. As reconciled creatures ourselves, as we begin to experience the grace and love of God through Jesus, we are entrusted then with the great and awesome task of becoming God's ambassadors of reconciliation to others, to creation and to ourselves.

But what are the tools are reconciliation that we are to use as we approach others in need of being reconciled to God, to creation and even to themselves? To me, we need look no further than the life and ministry of Jesus Christ while He was here on earth.

I propose and would like to show you in subsequent posts that there are a number of reconciliation tools that Jesus used. These include...

1. Truth
2. Touch
3. Transparency
4. Tenderness
5. Toughness
6. Timing

How do these six things apply to our call to the ministry of reconciliation?

Stay tuned for the truth topic with our next post...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Poverty Alleviation: The Ministry of Reconciliation Approach

Therefore, if poverty is the result of relationships that fail, what should be our ministy approach to alleviate poverty? Many of my contemporaries would say that we should have a ministry of transformation. However, I tend to disagree. Not that I do not want to see transformation of individuals and communities. I just believe that we do not have the power for transforming people. That power only lies with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. What I do believe is that our ministry approach in regards to addressing poverty should be the ministry of reconciliation.

The two New Testament root words for "forming" are "schema" and "morphoo". "Schema" forming refers more to the outside form of an object or individual. It's where we get the word "schematics" and is a diagram or representation of the inner workings of something or someone. "Morphoo" forming has more to do with the inner workings and a deep seated change of the essential nature of a thing or individual that expresses itself outwardly as that thing or person being a whole new entity.

Let me illustrate. Growing up, we made "seed" pictures in Sunday School by gluing seeds onto a tracing of an object. One time, we used corn seed to glue onto the outline of a corn plant. When it was finished, if you held it up and looked at it from a distance, it somewhat resembled a corn plant. It was a good "schema" of a corn plant.

However, if I had taken that same seed (which was actually corn) and planted in good soil, watered it and cared for it, eventually, that seed would have formed a young seedling. With more care and attention, it would have grown into a tall, healthy, and most importantly, actual corn plant capable of producing thousands of other seeds and plants. My point is anyone can glue seeds on a drawing and make a corn plant, but only God can make the living plant happen. This is the difference between "schema" forming and "morphoo" forming.

I propose that if we really want to see transformation, we had better concentrate on the ministry of reconciliation: man to God, man to fellow man, man to creation and man to himself. God doesn't expect us to transform anything; He does call us to be reconcilers...

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Chrsit and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

Transformation - the goal...

Reconciliation - the task entrusted to us...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Four Failed Relationships of Poverty

In my last blog (apology given for the time gap between then and now), I ended the discussion with the four relationships in our lives which, which when broken, lead to poverty. Now I'll try and connect these specific relationship breaks and the type of poverty they lead to. Much of the skeleton for this idea is taken from Bryant Myers's "Walking with the Poor" but garnished with my own thoughts born out of experiences.

1. Man's broken relationship to God leads to poverty of spirit - When this relationship is not as God planned in the Bible, a person reaps spiritual. True, there are many "spiritual" people in the world today. There are also many ways and religions which attempt to help man find a way to God or spiritual satisfaction. From a Biblical perspective, however, every person is spiritually poor or, even worse, spiritually dead unless they have a faith-based relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Jesus said it best himself when talking to a teacher of the law, Nicodemus, and said, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

2. Man's broken relationship with his fellow man leads to poverty of community - When this relationship is not as God planned, a person reaps community poverty. We have seen from previous blogs that God has created us for not only Himself but also for community with one another. And His plan for community is not any ordinary community but community in the way that it was meant to be; where He is the chief and most glorious head and there is true koinonea fellowship and participation in the lives of our fellow beings. This is the basic reason that our efforts at community development with a Kingdom focus can be an effective tool in evangelism and discipleship. Our efforts at the ministry of reconciliation between brothers can be a beautiful picture of what God has done through His Son Jesus in reconcling us to Himself.

3. Man's borken relationship with creation leads to poverty of stewardship - When nature and creation are not viewed as having a special place in the heart of the Creator and simply viewed as existing for our exploitation without stewardship, a person reaps stewardship poverty. God is Creator and Owner of all. He has given us the ministry of stewardship of His creation. Genesis 2:15 says, "The Lord god took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Man was even given the charge to "rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1:28b). And our model/pattern for 'ruling' should be that of the King of Kings, the Creator and Owner of all that we were given rule over. Thus, our correct 'rule' should be a position of stewardship; not as owners, but faithful stewards of the true owner.

4. Man's broken relationship with himself leads to poverty of self - We all are created in the image of God. As C. S. Lewis says, "you have never met a mere mortal." The problem with the world today is that it tries to convince us that we are nobodies. We are not worthy of being loved so how can we love? We are not valued so how can we value ourselves and others? A part of the fall is that we are now living with marred identities. The world wants to tell us that we are no good, unloveable, worthless. God wants to tell us that we are His beloved and that He will do almost anything to seek us out and call us to Himself. In fact, He loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, He sent His beloved, only begotten Son to die for us (Rom 5:8).

So, if these four primary relationships and the broken state that can exist lead us to true poverty, what is the answer for us who want to be freed from poverty?

The one word is "reconciliation."

That is our next topic...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sixth Key Thread in Biblical Communities

In my last blog post (I apologize for the time between that one and this one), I talked of five common threads that tie together the Biblical models of Kingdom communities. Namely,

1. God is the foundation of each
2. He is the Chief and most glorious inhabitant
3. Communities suffer or are not fully realizing their potential if God is not held in His proper place
4. The earthly models of community given to us by God are to serve as "crucibles" to us becoming the community He desires for us
5. In God's communities, lived according to God's way, He brings about wholeness

There is also a sixth and probably more pronounced yet subtle thread that runs through each of these communities and that is the thread of right relationships. Community, lived out and expressed as God desires, is always about living in right relationships. It is about living in right relationships in regards to our vertical relationship (us to God) and our horizontal relationships (us to our fellow man, us to nature and us to even ourselves).

When God calls us to be a part of His community, His fellowship, He calls us to righteousness in our relationships. This righteousness is defined to us in both the written and living Word and imparted to us under the New Covenant through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, it is something that we also have to "work out" in each of our own lives, in our relationships and in our standing in God's community.

I have often quoted myself (a dangerous thing!) in something that God placed on my heart in my early Christian pilgrimage saying, "There can be no right way of living without right relationships." What I mean is that there are no "lone ranger" Christians; a call to Christ is not just an individual thing but rather and invitation to community, God's community! In addition, our horizontal relationships (to our fellow man, to creation and to ourselves) say much and show even more the status of our vertical relationship to God.

So, in summary, here are the four basic relationships that God calls us to when He calls us to His glorious salvation...

1. Ourselves to God Himself (vertical) - Recognizing God as sovereign and Lord of all yet intimately seeking fellowship/relationship with each of us.
2. Ourselves to our fellow man/woman (horizontal) - Loving our neighbor as ourself.
3. Ourselves to creation, His creation (horizontal) - A love for the Creator and a love and respect for His creation (of which we ourselves are a part)
4. Ourselves to, well, ourselves (horizontal) - Loving ourselves in a way that respects and honors God as He created us. This one has to do very much with God's view of ourselves and is a foundation for our other horizontal relationships.

Next post, I will begin discussing each of these "community threads" and what they mean to us as individuals and, more importantly, a community in God.

Until then...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Six Biblical Models of Community - The Tie that Binds

So far, we've seen the six models of community in the Bible:

6. The new heaven and earth
5. The new testament church
4. The people of Israel
3. The family
2. The garden of eden
1. God Himself

If you haven't noticed, I have them in reverse order chronologically as they appear in the Bible. It may be a little corny but I do so because it puts God Himself as the foundation to all of the models. In fact, when we look at the model communities, a number of commonalities become apparent...

1. God is the foundation of each of these communities. When we find community like it is supposed to be in the Bible and anywhere else, we will find at the heart of that model community God Himself. Sure, there are some pretty good communities out there where God is not the center. Yes, there are some amazing places and people in the world who do not acknowledge or ever follow the God we know through the Bible and through His Son, Jesus. But no matter how "good" or how "amazing" these communities, places and people are, they are just not complete, from a Biblical sense, unless the foundation is built upon God.

2. Not only is God the foundation of each of these communities, He is the chief and most glorious inhabitant of the community. He is the focus of the community. He is worthy of all praise, adoration and attention of that community. And ironically, the more we love and focus on Him as the head of community, the more He blesses with His everlasting love, grace and peace.

3. When God is not held in His proper place in community, when people/communities choose their own ways and not God's, community suffers and thus the people of that community suffer the consequences.

4. The earthly models of community given to us in God and by God are to serve as "crucibles" of our becoming the community/people who God wants us to be.

5. The "wholeness" that God brings about in community has much to say and teach us about things such as pain, death, sickness, poverty, injustice, etc.

Well, this is much for one blog. Next blog, I will begin to take on the commonalities of God's model communities one by one.

Until then...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Six Model Communities - Number 1 "God Himself"

So what is the sixth model of community in the Bible (number 1 in chronological order as it appears)? It is, amazingly, God Himself!

In Genesis 1:26, during the great creation time, God said...'Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness...' Thus, here is the perfect model of community; God Himself. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. From the beginning (and even before the beginning because there is no beginning with God), God is in community and God is community. Thus, from creation to eternity, God desires community for it is His very nature!

He knows that the best for us is found in community. But not just any community. We are only fulfilled and made complete when we participate or "community" with Him through His Son Jesus Christ and with the body of Christ, the Church. In this, we are being prepared and made perfect for an eternity in community as God has designed and will bring about.

John Eldgredge says in his book Epic, "How wonderful to discover that God has never been alone. He has always been Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has always been a fellowship." In other words, one could say that God has always been "koinonea" and at the very heart of God, is the 'common-ness' and 'participation' in the lives of those He loves namely you and me!

So far, we've seen the six models of community in the Bible:

6. The new heaven and earth
5. The new testament church
4. The people of Israel
3. The family
2. The garden of eden
1. God Himself

Next blog, I would like to begin discussing why I have them in reverse order and the common things that I see in each expression of community. Then, later on, I would like to talk more about this should affect our lives and the way we do ministry...

Until then...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Six Model Communities - Number 2 "The Garden of Eden"

The Garden of Eden is the fifth (actually 2nd if you go in chronolgical order) model community we see in the Bible. Like the New Heaven and Earth, the New Testament Church, the nation/community of Israel and the family, the Garden gives us a glimpse, a foresight if you will, of what God intends for us in regards to community.

According to Genesis 2:8-17, it is eeriely striking how similar the Garden of Eden in Genesis is with the New Heaven and Earth revealed in the book of Revelation. The Garden was created for man and provided with all the things that he would need. There was no pain, sickness, hunger, poverty, etc., in the Garden just like we see in the vision of eternity in Revelation 21 and 22.

In the Garden was placed the tree of life. The only other place we see this tree in the Bible is in the New Heaven and Earth as well. A river flowed down the middle of the Garden such as the one from the throne of God in Revelation. Talk about coming to a full circle!

Man was given dominion in the Garden under the Lordship of the Creator God. God's presence was there and God Himself would walk in the cool of the day with man (Adam) and talk with him in perfect communion. What a great picture of community as it was meant to be!

So, we have discussed 5 model communities thus far. These communities have been in reverse order as they appear in the Bible. Next blog, we'll look at the first model community in the Bible which occurs even before the Garden. And this model is the basis of all that we seek to be as community here on earth and as Kingdom community development workers, it is the foundation for our strategies.

Until then...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Six Model Communities - Number 3 "The Family"

At the beginning of creation, God saw that everything in the world He created had community except for the first man, Adam. No suitable helper was found for him among the other created entities. Therefore, God formed woman from the side of man to which man proclaimed, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man." (Genesis 2:18-25). Thus a man, in due time, will leave his birth family/community and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh and in essence, the beginning of a new community.

And this is not any ordinary community. Biblically, it is to be a community where God is exalted, honored and followed first by the head of the community (the man). In turn, the man is to be the head of the family and the wife. The NT commands us to "Submit to one another out of revernce for Christ" and more specifically for, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." (Ephesian 5:22-24)

The husband, being the "head" of this community, finds his inspiration and model in Christ. "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy...In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (Ephesians 5: 25, 28)

Thus, here you have another model of community as God meant it to be: God, a man and a woman, together in unity, loving one another and raising up a new generation and a new community which they call their family...

So, where are we going with all these models of community and what in the world do they have to do with Kingdom and community development? The new heaven and earth, the church, Israel, the family...

Next blog, model community number 5 (or number 2 going in reverse order as they occur in the Bible)...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Six Model Communities - Number 4 "The Community of Israel"

Continuing with sharing the six model communities that I see in the Bible, number 4 (again in reverse order) is the community of Israel. If you haven't done it lately, go back and read the book of Deuteronomy especially chapters 10 through 26. God calls and sets apart a tiny people, not because of any merit they have, to be His blessing and mouthpiece to all other nations. He starts with "father" Abraham and a promise to make his descendants into a great nation and that "all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Gen 12:2-3). God is to be their God, King and supreme ruler. They are to be His people to declare His praises and glory among the nations.

Isaac, Abraham's son and Jacob, Abraham's grandson, are given basically the same promise that God gave Abraham. Jacob, even with all his faults, is given this honor and given a new name, "Israel", which ironically means "he struggles with God". What a foreshadow of events to come for this nation!

Through a series of shady events that has the makings of a modern soap opera, one of Israel's youngest sons, Joseph, leads his fathers' household down to Egypt. They are 70 in number when they go down. And God uses the Nile valley as a crucible to form His Israel, His beloved people into a nation of over 600,000 men (probably around 3 to 4 million people) in a period of 430 years!

Thus the "community" of Israel comes out of its captivity in Egypt and begins to head towards the promised land, Canaan. Not a small, insignificant tribe but a people of millions. As they went, God, through His servant Moses, gave them His plan for community and said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians..." (Exodus 15:26). And the people agreed! They affirmed before Moses and priests and elders of Israel, "Everything the Lord has said we will do." (Exodus 24:3)

Israel was the model community called to be set apart from all other nations. They were to proclaim that the Lord is God and the only one and true God. They were a community called to love God with all their heart, soul strength. They were to be holy and set apart; a blessing to all nations.

Biblical models of community...The New Heaven and New Earth, the New Testament Church, Israel...

Next blog, the Biblical model of community number 3...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Six Model Communities - Number 5 "The Church"

The fifth model (again in reverse order) of community in the Bible is the church. It is the body of Christ, His community on earth. His community is, "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God..." They are called so and set apart in order that they might "declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light."

This community is characterized by devotion to God's teachings, fellowhsip with one another, communion and prayer. They are described as having all things in common and taking care of those who have needs. They meet together daily and praise God with glad and sincere hearts. Christ is the head and they are one in heart and in the Spirit. They are a model of what God desires for his people now and to come. They are also a "contagious" community "praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people." And, they are a growing community as, "...the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:42-47)

The great power of God was experessed among them. "Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43). Moreover, "with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all." (Acts 4:33)

There was a caring community. "There was no needy person among them." (Acts 4:34) "All believers were in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." (Acts 2:44-45).

Biblical model of community number 5 - The church as God meant it to be...

Next post, model community number 4 from the Bible. Until then...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Six Model Communities from the Bible - Number 6

There are six (6) models of Kingdom community that I find in the Bible. Maybe there are more but these are the six which jump out at me and give an insight into life as God means it to be. With your permission, I will start with number six and work my way back to number one. This is in reverse order as they occur in the Bible and, again with your permission, I'll explain later as to why I list numbers 6 to 1 instead of starting with number 1.

The first model of community in the Bible (or number six, I should say) is the new heaven and new earth found in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. Other words for this are eternity or simply "heaven." Here we find community as one day it will be. In fact, all of history is moving towards this everlasting and glorious community. It is a community where God dwells with man and He is the supreme ruler and focus of the community. He is theirs and they are his people forever and ever. There will be no death, no mourning, no crying and no pain. There is no need for a temple or even a church, for God is with His people. There is no need for a sun or moon to light the way, for God is the everlasting light. God's glory fills the whole realm!

There is nothing impure or unclean here and there is a river of life, clear and clean, flowing from he throne of God, lined by the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Community doesn't get any better than this for it cannot! This is the final and eternal community of God!

Anybody interested in living here? This is the destination for those who enter into "community" with God here on earth...

Next post...Kingdom community model number 5...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Word "Community" in the Bible...

Even though there are many examples/models of community in the Bible, as far as I can tell there is no one word that actually means "community". The word we use comes from the Latin communitas, which is derived from the root word communis or "common". The closest word in the New Testament stems from the Greek root word koin and its most basic meaning which also means "common".

There are five words in the New Testament that contain the root koin. Two are adjectives, two are verbs and one is the noun, koinonea. And while I have always thought koinonea to mean "fellowship" (which it does), it can mean much more. It is also used to denote communion, communication, contribution and, my favorite, participation.

I think this concept of koinonea/participation is getting close to what is stirring in my heart about community. The fact that we "participate" in the Kingdom of God when we come alongside those who are hungry, suffering, persecuted and oppressed and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. As in Hebrews 10:33, we choose to stand "side by side" (read "koinonea") with "those so treated." And just as Jesus "participated" in our lives by becoming flesh, the God incarnate, we too are called to "participate" in "the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Peter 1:4). Moreover, this "participation" with His divine nature thrusts us into action, to participate with with a lost and dying world. And this lost and dying world is composed of the lost, the last (unreached) and, don't forget, the least (those overlooked and marginalized by the world).

Well, I promised a couple of posts back to begin talking about the six models of community which I find in the Bible and I will do so beginning with the next post. I will discuss them in reverse order (number 6 to number 1) in which they occur in the Bible. I will save the reason for doing so until later.

Until then...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On the Contrary...

Someone said, "Wow, you must have been a part of some really bad churches" based on my last blog. However, the opposite is true. I've been blessed to be a member of or attend some wonderful churches in my lifetime! My home church in rural Tennessee was the crucible of my faith. I had an amazing pastor/teacher during my formative spiritual years as well as godly men and women who taught and instructed me along the way in my journey. I also served on staff of a number of great churches, learned from pastors/friends and helped start a number of churches while living in the Philippines. I have seen churches living out Christ's life here on earth and in community. So you may ask, "why the struggle"?

Call it wanderlust. Call it a longing for the eternity God set in my (and your) heart. Maybe even call it a mid-life crises (how can it be mid-life when we're going to live forever?). But there is something in me that says that there is more to this Kingdom thing than what we see in our everyday lives and in most of our churches. Seeing my life and seeing how conformed I've become (or the lack thereof) to the image of the Son, makes me yearn for what Jesus taught His disciples to pray: "...Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"

That's what I'm talking about. And that's what I want to talk about with others...

Any takers out there?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Isn't the Kingdom of God on earth the church?...

A friend has asked, "Aren't you talking about the church when you're talking about the Kingdom of God on earth?" And my answer is "yes" and "no". Let me discuss the "yes" briefly and then spend a little more time on the "no" part to the answer.

"Yes" the Kingdom of God expressed here on earth should be the church, the living, vital, functioning body of Christ where His rule and reign is acknowledged, celebrated and followed. But I have to ask myself a serious question regarding the church: "Have I ever seen or been a member of a church like this?"

Unfortunately, most of the churches I have been a part of through the years have been somewhat less of the image of the invisible God in both word and deed. Granted, I'm a part of that problem so I'm not laying the blame anywhere else except squarely on my own shoulders. I remember one time on a "visitation" call to the home of a non-believer, I was privileged to discuss with him matters of salvation and to my joy, he decided during that visit to become a follower of Jesus Christ. During further discussion, I encouraged him to become a member of a local church to help him grow in his new faith and invited him to my group which was just a block away from his house. His whole countenance changed and he said, "Why would I want to go there? I've heard about your church and I've got enough problems of my own."

Another friend of mine once told me that the problem with the church today is that it is supposed to be a perfect institution but is in reality made up of fallen beings. So there's the catch: God's chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God but yet at best, sinners saved by grace.

I know that this may be a bit extreme example/idea, but it also is an all to common happening as well. Yet when I read the Bible and see the model of the New Testament church, my soul wants to scream, "I know that God's Kingdom on earth is supposed to look like God's Kingdom in heaven!" But where is it?

I have found that there are, as far as I can tell, six models of God's plan for His community in the Bible of which His church is one. I would like to discuss these over the next couple of blog posts. Until then....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Kingdom of God...

Much has been written through the years regarding the Kingdom of God. One of my favorite definitions is from Dallas Willard, who says, "God's own Kingdom or rule is the range of His effective will, where what He wants done is done." My favorite stories describing the Kingdom are from Jesus' parables in the New Testament. I was just reading this morning in Matthew 13, where Jesus compared the Kingdom to 1) a man who went out to sow good seed, 2) a mustard seed, 3) yeast in the dough, 4) a hidden treasure, 5) a pearl of great value and 6) a net let down into the lake to catch all kinds of fish. What I gathered once again from these stories is that God's Kingdom is one of great value to those who find it (the hidden treasure and pearl). Also, His Kingdom is a Kingdom of growth in those who are called to participate in it (the mustard seed and yeast). Furthermore, there is and will be a coming harvest and judgment in relation to where a person stands in regard to the Kingdom (the parable of the weeds and net).

While I was raised in a culture which interprets these parables more along the lines of the individual and his/her personal response, I wonder if Jesus isn't saying as much about communities as He is individuals. I can easily understand what "God's own Kingdom and rule" looks like in my life, but what would it look like in a transformed community? What would a true community of God look like where His effective will is prevalent? What would our community look like if it were a place where what God wants done is done?

Francis Fragipane wrote: "This, my friends, is the glorious mystery of our existence! The Almighty has purposed from eternity to create a race of men, who, though tested in a corrupt and violent world, bear the image and likeness of Christ." Wouldn't that be something to see?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

God's Kingdom in Heaven and on Earth...

I am a community development worker and have been for twenty-plus years. I have worked mainly in Asia in poor, rural communities and have done my work from what I describe as a Biblical perspective or "Kingdom" development. I believe with all my heart that God desires people to have an abundant life, not necessarily in a material sense, but in terms of dignity, relationships and their basic needs such as food, water, clothing, security, adequate housing, etc. Not being a "Pollyanna," I also believe that this abundant life is relatively achievable when people, communities and even possibly nations live in accordance to God's plans and His way.

I would like to take the opportunity of this blog and begin discussing this idea: What would God's Kingdom coming on earth look like? I also will be trying to ask some questions that I hope you will help me with along the way. I would like to recruit a number of like-minded folks to dialogue on emerging thoughts and questions that I have on Kingdom development. My plan is to post regular weekly blogs and grow a number of interested cooperators along the way.