The Upside-Down Kingdom

I’ve been pondering lately how the Kingdom of God is upside-down.  I suppose that is just from our perspective, really it is right-side-up and we are upside down.   It is a kingdom where the first are last and the last are first, it is a kingdom where the poor are blessed because it belongs to them.  A kingdom whose citizens, when struck on one cheek, offer the other in return, beyond that they love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.

It is a kingdom where the powerful are to be vulnerable and servants to all.  where you must lose your life to gain it.  It is a kingdom where the shepherd will leave behind the 99 sheep in-hand to search for the one lost sheep.  It is where a widow will scour her house for a missing penny and then rejoice at it’s finding and invite her friends to a party.  You may say “that doesn’t even make sense”, but of course it doesn’t, it is upside down.

And ultimately it is a kingdom ruled by a servant God-king who laid aside his glory to enter into his creation as a poverty stricken servant, born in a barn, wrapped in rags, laid in a manger.  He became king not through conquest, but by surrender and his very coronation involved his own torture and death, where his throne was a cross and his crown was made of thorns.

Good Soil

In Jesus parable of the farmer scattering seeds, he describes the good soil at the end saying “And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it and patiently produce a huge harvest.” Lk 8:15 NLT.

Something bothered me about that parable. Continue reading “Good Soil”

Backsliding? Or Learning to Swim?

Sometimes when we are making spiritual progress and then it seems like we are backsliding for one reason or another, it may not be backsliding. It may be that God has just stepped back so you can see who you really are without his full support. He doesn’t actually leave, no he is still just as close and just as ready, like a father teaching his son to swim. The son may start to think he is really swimming on his own, and may even exclaim, “look daddy, I’m swimming”, so the father lovingly loosens his grip and maybe even let’s his hands down so his son can see what it is like to really swim, and maybe they can. But you will never know until he let’s go. And just like a father would never let his son drown in a pool, neither will our heavenly father let us drown in our life.

By holding us up he shows us what it is like to swim; this way you can know what the goal is. But even that is nothing like what the real freedom of swimming on your own is like.

Our hearts are like onions and have layers, but as you peel back the layers with God, you find diseased parts that need removing, because, like yeast will works it’s way through an entire batch of dough, the disease portions can spread and hurt, corrupt or kill the good and living tissue of who we are.  Once that layer is clean, we think all is good.   But if you peel it back, there is more underneath.

You think you are swimming, you think all is good in your heart.  What may seem like backsliding, may actually be our father just pulling back his hands so we can see what our real “aquatic skills” are, or he may just be peeling back another layer and exposing more diseased portion.

Ultimately it is all part of growth, it is all part of healing and learning to swim.


Lent is a time of reflection upon the suffering of Jesus leading up to and including the cross.  During these six weeks we fast as a small way to share in his suffering. This is the first time I have participated in the fast in the last 2 years. Rather then be draining or consuming like I feared, it has been the opposite, filling and empowering.

Here are some of my lenton fast reflections.

1. Shows how weak I am.  It is amazing how grumpy going without those small daily comforts can make me

2. Has helped me breaks  bad habits for filling needs with stuff. Or feeding our passions. I can distract myself from feeding on the word of God, Jesus, by eating or drinking or reading or watching a show…  I end up  entertaining my spirit to death.

3. Gives a sense of anticipation for what I do not have but know will come. How I look forward to the Sunday feast day is a small shadow of how I can anticipate the fulfillment of Gods Kingdom

4. It makes me thankful for even the small things. We often don’t notice things until they are gone and we miss them.

5. I have found that I can let go of other small things that I have come to rely on rather than God.

6. The small victories give me strength for larger challenges.  If I can go all week without something I am used to having on a daily basis then maybe I can tackle those larger issues in my life.

Rather than filling myself with physical things, Lent has served to remind me that Jesus is the bread of life, and I should be filling myself with Him.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:35-40, 45, 53-58 NIV)