looking at the world upside down

Posted in random comments with tags , , , on October 31, 2008 by mikemegan

in matthew 5 jesus gives rather lengthy talk to a large crowd of his fellow jewish citizens.  as He spells out the ‘beatitudes’ we hear things like blessed are the poor, meek, hungry, merciful, and on the list goes. now i have to admit that in the context of todays society it doesn’t make much sense but when i read a bit of history on isreal and the jewish system, i promise you it made even less sense to them.

since the time when God first gave the promises to Abraham that his decendents would be as many as the stars and that they would posess great lands and come away with many treasusres.  throughout the entire old testiment we see a repeat of the same process over and over again.  isreal turning away from God and then being overtaken by some country and then a remenent of faithful people being brought back to the promise land and reestablishing God’s people.  when they, as a society, where following God they would see and feel His blessing upon them as they prospered and were protected.  when they turned from God and followed other gods they would soon be over taken as God’s hand of protection and blessing was taken away from them.

Before i go on with my thoughts on the beatitude let me ask this:

after reading the previous paragraph, how many of you have been taught or believe the same thing about God now?  following God = blessing & not following God = abandonement

how do you think the beatitudes speak to this view of God?

the kingdom of God is a noun..

Posted in random comments with tags , , on October 14, 2008 by mikemegan

Have you ever seen someone set up a big set of dominoes?  They will take hours setting up small little pieces in precisely the right pattern that isn’t entirely apparent to the observer until it is all finished and ready for the fall.  And then with just a gently nudge the first block is set in motion which ever so easily falls over into the next in line. Over and over again the process repeats creating this amazing chain reaction of all these tiny pieces, pieces which started as independent, free standing objects but are now part of a bigger picture all tied together. That is the best picture I can give of what was happening in my brain as we sat around discussing the kingdom of God in our Wednesday night guys group last week.

We started our discussion with just a couple of verses. In the first chapter of Mark we get this from Christ who is just beginning His ministry and just beginning to gather His disciples

14.  After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

I posed to the group,

“What the heck is Jesus talking about when He says the kingdom of God is near? What is the kingdom of God and if it is ‘near’ then is it here? There is a distinct difference between ‘near’ and ‘here’. What is going on?”

Some of you are probably saying, as did someone at my group, “near – here, what is the difference? same thing.” I say to you, if a tornado is near, you will not be nearly as concerned as if it is here. If the fire is near my house will be ok but if it is here then all is lost. There must be a reason he didn’t say here.

*** I would love to hear your thoughts about this post feel free to comment. No, you don’t have to do anything but click the button.  Sorry this is a bit lengthy but I am trying to explain the ‘kingdom of God’…**

Then someone responded to my question by taking us to Acts 1. This is where the disciples ask Jesus when He was going to establish the Kingdom of Israel – they were thinking that Jesus was going to set them up as the ruling force on earth (thinking of the physical world). They wanted to get out from under the oppression of the Romans and once again be the chosen people of God ruling the Promised Land. What Christ told them must have been yet another surprise. They were to just sit and wait for the Holy Spirit to come and then they would be given power (talking of the spiritual world) that would take them to the ends of the earth. They would go from bumbling cowards to martyrs that preached to thousands.

At this point in our discussion all the dominoes were falling in my brain and it became clear to me that I was looking at so many small individual pieces that it was no wonder I was lost on the idea of kingdom. I didn’t have any clue what that really meant because I wasn’t thinking of it in the right perspective.  I was always thinking of it from an earthly, physical, dominion perspective. I was asking what the ‘kingdom is doing’ or how the ‘kingdom is at work’.  (Two common phrases in Christendom that suddenly make no sense at all)

Back to the book of: Christ started His ministry by saying the Kingdom is near, He was ushering in the kingdom of God. He was what they had been waiting on for thousands of years. The Messiah! The King of the Jews.  But He was not what they expected. He didn’t overthrow governments, conquer lands or even inherit a castle so how did He bring the Kingdom? It was in the Holy Spirit.  When he said near that was because it wouldn’t be until after his ascension that the Holy Spirit would come to reside in believers.

In the Greek text kingdom is a noun, basileia. It is something that we join or are a part of just like we are in a country, the United States, or I am an American because I am tied to this country and its rule. As Zodhiates puts it, “spiritually the kingdom of God is within the heart… the spiritual and eternal kingdom which is to subsist first in the more imperfect circumstances on earth, but afterwards will appear complete in the world of glory.”

We join God’s Kingdom at the moment of salvation. When we trust in Him for salvation we are ‘sealed with Holy Spirit until the day of redemption.’ We are heirs to the throne of God, a royal priesthood, and part of a holy nation. His kingdom is alive in us and as we obey Him then we will spread His kingdom and the good fruits of His kingdom to those here on earth. The kingdom is here inside of us and is yet to come because we wait to see our King face to face and bow before His throne when we get to experience His kingdom in body as well as soul.

what happens when you loose everything

Posted in weekly discussions with tags , , on July 7, 2008 by mikemegan

well, back from a couple of weeks off and I am looking forward to some good discussions this week on job (that is pronounced jobe. the book in the bible not the thing that earns you money)

thinking about what all job went through really got me thinking about what life is like right now for so many people throughout the world.  we have a huge global food crisis where people are starving because they cant get their normal meal of ‘rice’.  then I saw the news from columbia where 15 hostages where just freed on wednesday. some of them were held hostage for 10 years.  that is not only loosing all of your possessions but you  loose your freedom too!  you dont choose what to eat, when to eat, what to where or where to sleep. I wonder what the conversations will be with the ex-hostages and their friends?  new york times article

at our last gathering we talked a bit about job’s reaction and come of the comments and reactions from job’s friends in the first few chapters of job.  this week I would love to dive into that conversation even more and talk about what it means to be a friend, to be faithful and to truely trust in God.  we will hit the highlights from the conversation through chapter 35.

any thoughts from job so far?

see you wed.

mike

a look at job’s friends

Posted in weekly discussions with tags , , on June 18, 2008 by mikemegan

tonight we had some great discussions from the first few chapters of job. after job’s world completely falls apart and within a day looses not only what would be the equivalent of millions of dollars worth of property and animals and rounds the day out with the tragic death of all of his kids. and before the week is out he is covered from head to toe with boils. by the end of chapter 2 his wife gives him a word of encouragement and suggest that he just curse God and die. then he is joined by three friends who try their best to get him to repent of his ‘sins’ and come clean before God.

for the sake of brevity i will stick to the highlights of our discussions:

1st – after all the trash talk that is given to job’s wife and friends from commentaries and pulpits around the globe i say it is about time to cut them some slack. if you saw your husband loose everything that he owns and all of his kids and them become covered in boils you would probably suggest the same. when someone is in that much misery and grief it is a natural response to wish them out of the pain.

same goes for the friends. i don’t care what anyone says, i wish i had more friends that would be willing to shed tears, tear their coat [symbolic gesture to show sorrow and sympathy] and sit in the dirt with me for 7 days without saying a word! i wish i was that kind of friend to more people!

2. the friends only spoke from what they knew. yes, we as the reader get the privilege of knowing what is taking place above the stratosphere but the ‘friends’ only knew that for as long as they could remember job was humble in the site of the Lord and had a lot of friends, money, animals, family, happiness, and good looks to show for it. now it seemed that God was taking all that away from him. as far as i am concerned they were on the right track. i would have been saying the same thing and would most likely expect the same from them.

3. how much difference is their between God ‘taking away’ and God ‘allowing to be taken’? i might suggest that we step back and take a good look at the differences before we start asking the ‘but God why’ questions about life.

4. there is an amazing life lesson to be learned from the friends. go and shut up. when friends are going thru good times or bad a true friend does not need to be ask to come over they will just show up. but most importantly they will at worst ask questions and at best just sit and listen. just sit and listen.

thinking about job…

Posted in weekly discussions with tags on June 3, 2008 by mikemegan

for the landing place over the next few weeks we will take a into the life of job.  this dark yet profoundly meaningful book can teach us a bit about ourself, our pride and a lot about God and His faithfulness.  we will begin to dive into job this week and see what is revealed.  i will try to leave some thoughts as we progress.

a word about the future

Posted in weekly discussions with tags on June 1, 2008 by mikemegan

for the past few weeks we at the landing place, specifically our wed. night group, have been discussing the future.  how to cultivate and create the future that we impact and shape instead of just walking into the next day and taking what we get.

most of our conversation was spurred from a video study from http://www.societyroom.com

over the last 3-4 weeks we have watched a few videos and read a short essay that all inspired some good debate and interesting thoughts.  the first week really challenged us to think about how we interact within our culture and society.  through-out the past century we have seen the church as a whole react in different ways to the world outside the church.  we have seen the church take the ‘posture’ to condemn, critique, copy and consume the culture around them.  andy crouch challenged us to be creators and cultivators of culture and have gestures (i.e. have guidelines) instead of postures (laws of yes and no) toward our culture.

we also looked at what the next 1,000 years might look like for our world and the church. we talked about how we can begin influencing culture and our community now that will begin to make an impact for the next 1,000 years.  to begin with we agreed to make a new, concerted effort to meet new people and expand our social influence both at church and away from church.  i also challenged the group to really consider how they can each become more involved in our church body.

we shared some of how we might like to serve or get more involved at church or in our community. feel free to leave me some comments here on ways that you would like to get more involved at our church or how you would like to serve in general.  we also are always looking for ways to share in artistic expression so if you have some ideals on what you would like to do.

soon we will start into the book of job so start reading up and feel free to comment at will

mike

grace: random thoughts

Posted in random comments, weekly discussions with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2008 by mikemegan

“Grace once bestowed is not withdrawn: for God knew all human exigencies [faults] beforehand. His action was independent of them not dependent upon them.”

i wonder if it because we are naturally inclined to not give grace that we have such a hard time understanding it. as i read this quote again yesterday it reminded me of how i get caught up in the idea of pleasing God to remain in His good grace when in fact i am in it no matter what. He extended it to me when i was still deep in sin. i was declared righteous because of what Christ did and yet i think i can keep that righteousness by my own good deeds?

faith = hope, grace, a standing in grace & blessing for our entire life that we may or may not take hold of

walk therefore, in the grace where with you stand

—————-
Now playing: Sufjan Stevens – Abraham
via FoxyTunes