Chapter Seven: The Impossible Dream
Over the last 2,000 years the church of Jesus Christ has seen periods of explosive growth, as well as times when it appeared that all was lost.
Chapter 6: The Simplicity of Christ
The premise of this book is that Light has come into this world. We are currently working to better understand what that means to us in our daily lives. First we looked at the possibility of the renewed vitality and sense of adventure that is available to believers and unbelievers alike in the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Secondly we considered the difference a change in perspective can make for us all. In chapter three we looked at some examples in scripture of how God has given and continues to give a clearer picture of reality through supernatural means to those who desire Him.
If we can keep in mind that God has not forgotten His original intention for humanity, if we also keep in mind that He cannot fail, then it might become easier to see how His plan continued to move forward in Genesis. Immediately after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He informed them of the consequences of their sin. Life would be much harder than before. At the same time He also gave them a promise of the future victory.
In the New Testament we learn a lot about the importance of faith. It is by grace that we are saved, through faith, and not that of ourselves – it is the gift of God, not by works lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9). The crux of Jesus’ preaching was to repent and believe the Good News of the Kingdom of God. We are also told that faith comes by hearing, hearing this message from God. The apostle John wrote his entire account for one purpose. His hope was that it would encourage the reader to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and thereby to find life in His Name (John 20:31). Elsewhere we learn that faith was an important factor in the lives of many Old Testament characters as well (Hebrews 11:1-40). Continue reading
A fascinating story is found in 2 Kings chapter 6. At this time the King of Aram was plotting against Israel, but several times his plot was thwarted. He began to suspect a traitor in his midst that was warning the King of Israel of his plans. what was really happening was this: Elisha the prophet was the leak! Somehow he knew by a supernatural word of knowledge what plans the king of Aram were making in his private room, and passed them on to the king of Israel. When the king of Aram learned of this he sent horses and chariots and a great army to surround the city where Elisha lodged. Continue reading
What I described to you in chapter one was a major change in perspective for me. This is sometimes known as a paradigm shift. My favorite example of a paradigm shift is found in the story of Nicolaus Copernicus. Nicolaus Copernicus was a 16th century mathematician and astronomer who proposed a model of the universe which was very different than the one accepted in his day.
This book is dedicated to anyone who hungers for a greater sense of purpose in life. It seeks to inspire us all to cast off our human limitations and to believe that all things are possible with God. The “all things” we refer to are not foolish and vain possibilities but all things that pertain to the Kingdom of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures. If your desire to move forward and prosper in life by faith has hit a proverbial brick wall, I urge you to refrain from giving up. There is a drive, a fire within you that should not be quenched, but perhaps redirected.
This might sound like a cliche, but it is true: God has a purpose for you in this life. In this purpose you are invincible through Him. It is my hope that a fresh look at God’s glorious Kingdom purposes for this earth will widen your horizon and open your eyes to the significance of your role in them. At this point I must warn you. Some of the limitations we face are actually our own beliefs about God and His purposes. As many of our biblical heroes before us, we must be willing to allow God to change our points of view in certain areas. we are to be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds, “so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
Even if a hunger for a greater sense of purpose is not very strong in you, perhaps we could at least encourage you in acquiring a greater desire for God in the Person of Jesus Christ. That is certainly a worthy goal and something in which we should all be fulfilled and blessed. That kind of encouragement would be counted as success from my point of view!
Over two thousand years ago, the Son of God appeared to the residents of an insignificant country as the son of a carpenter from an insignificant city. He gathered men and women from various professions and recruited them in His mission of heralding the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. They understood that He was calling them to make great sacrifices, yet it is doubtful they realized how difficult their future would actually be.
In the end they received the courage to follow Him. That courage is greatly responsible for the fact that His Name is known yet today. With the help of God and the power of the Holy Spirit moving in them and in the people they met, they testified in an amazing way that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and Lord of all, as witnesses to His resurrection!
Now the centuries have passed, and the knowledge of Jesus and His story has gone around the world. That knowledge has impacted governments and cultures in ways that cannot fully be measured. Some have misused and abused this knowledge. Others have seen the benefits of His life and message.
In this 21st Century, many are concerned about their future and the future of society in general. Jealousy, envy, rage, war, racial tensions, sexual immorality, drug addiction, murder and crime seem to be on the increase. Faith in Christ, at least statically speaking seems to be decreasing. How should we respond to the many crisis we are facing today?
This book seeks to challenge believers in Christ to greater faith, vision and courage. As a natural born coward myself, I know our only hope is in seeking the source of greater faith, vision and courage — Jesus Christ Himself. I believe by seeking Him, we will also recover a greater, deeper understanding of His message, His mission, and and the hope that it will bring. That message is the Good News of the Kingdom of God! It is a message that is very relevant to the issues of every age!
Thankfully we live in a time when more people are seeking to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God. In this book I will earnestly try to incorporate what I have learned over many years from others and from my own study about the kingdom of God which I believe will embolden your testimony for Christ. Christians in many parts of this modern world are being ignored, ridiculed and often persecuted for their beliefs. Some of this might be their own fault, of course, but Christ Himself warned that we would face opposition for His sake. The many kinds of opposition are not all going to be detailed here, but the basic and fundamental elements of our struggle will be recognized.
The goal here is victorious faith in Christ, the very kind of faith that was seen in the first Christians! Have you ever wondered how they endured persecution and torture for their faith, when most of us recoil from the slightest insult? Have you considered how our petty squabbles among ourselves as believers can work against an effective witness for Christ to the world? Or how about this? Have you ever had the nagging feeling that you were created for more than mere existence? Most of us believe that there is a glorious future in eternity with Christ, but what about our lives today? Can they have more meaning and purpose and bring more glory to God right here on earth? Isn’t that how Jesus taught us to pray, for the will of God to be done on earth as it is done in heaven?
Writing this book is part of what I need to do in response to my concerns in these days for my family, my city, my country, our world, but mostly in response to my Lord Jesus Christ, who called me to Himself and revealed His glorious Kingdom to me. It is the result of my lifes work, my legacy, which I pray will come to the benefit of as many as possible!
Therefor I invite you the reader to listen for the voice of the Lord as you continue in these pages. He just might use them to give you a greater revelation of Him, His kingdom, His love, His power and His purpose for us all!
Chapter One: Are You Ready For An Adventure?
This universe in which we live is fundamentally one of order. What we call the laws of physics are basically that – laws that are constant and unchangeable. One plus one will always equal two. The moon revolves around our earth, and the earth revolves around our sun to produce days, months and years that help us to mark time and seasons. Those regular patterns are important to us and help to produce stability so that life can continue here.
On the other hand there is much room for diversity and even chaos! This universe is amazing and infinitely complex. We human beings are an integral part of that order, that complexity, that diversity and even the chaos! In all this we sense the need for security, and predictability. Sometimes in our search for security and comfort we neglect another of our basic needs. I believe we also need challenges, excitement and adventure! How else can we explain the thrill of an amusement park and a ride on a roller coaster? Why do we very often pay hard earned money on opportunities to needlessly risk our lives or at least the risk of injury? Of course there are a number of safer ways for getting the heart pumping and an adrenaline rush. Many of us like watching others appearing to be in danger on a big movie screen, or watching our favorite athletes in the sports arena. The popularity of these kinds of entertainment seem to prove my point that we do indeed crave excitement.
In my humble opinion these are all cheap substitutes for seeing life itself as an adventure, a quest with a purpose. As we gain a greater understanding of the kingdom of God and our place in it, even the ordinary, repetitive activities of every day can have richness of purpose and meaning. When Jesus, the son of a simple craftsman and laborer began His career as an itinerant preacher, many hours and even days were filled with the ordinary matters of moving from place to place. Other times were intense and dramatic. All of it was energized by His sense of purpose, that same sense of purpose that He passed down to His followers, which in turn has propelled His church forward unto this day.
If you are all like me, you might have found yourself at times wondering about your purpose. Maybe you have wondered about what we are doing in the church? Are we simply doing what we do because we have always done it that way? Have some of our churches and our leaders lost that sense of purpose that was given to us by Jesus? When we read and study the bible to learn about God’s will for us are we reading it through the lens of our current traditions and culture, or are we reading it to hear what the Holy Spirit would teach us? These are things that you and I must work out between ourselves and God, but at the same time we can help each other, learn together and challenge one another in it.
Not all of us feel the need for excitement or adventure. Sometimes life itself provides all the challenges we can handle. We look for times of peace and tranquility. we come to a typical Sunday church service looking for comfort and encouragement. we go to great lengths to find ways of getting our minds off of our troubles. At this point I would really like to share a personal experience of mine. Many years ago I had come to a place of great despair. The thought of ending it all actually crossed my mind. Thankfully that thought was wiped away by the realization of the many people who loved me and my child who depended upon me. The fact that I was taught from my early years by my mother and others in my life about God and the bible had to be the most important factor that kept me going. One night while I was all alone in my home after putting the baby to bed, I began to cry out to God with all my heart.
When I began to realize how He continued to love me and to send wonderful, godly people into my life after all the years of resisting Him, I finally broke down. He was there all the time, just waiting for me to return to Him. That was my moment of total surrender, even greater than when I first gave my life to Him. The result was the lifting of that heavy load of guilt, worry and fear that I had been carrying for so long. The following morning the world seemed so bright and new! Even though my problems had not left me, I was lifted above them somehow! To this day I cannot put it into words. Back then but I tried to tell others about it immediately. Eventually I was able to talk with others who knew exactly what I was experiencing. Perfect words with them were not necessary. Since then I have met with people in many other parts of the world who also immediately understand me when I try speak about it. They too have had encounters with the Living God!
What came next is so important. I mentioned I was already a Christian. In fact I was saved and baptized at the age of 12. At this time I was about 21. For this entire time my devotion to Christ was up and down, hot and cold. It was many times a struggle for me to maintain a consistent testimony. I would see other young men who were bold in their faith, and envied them. Being backward and shy by nature did not help. Now that I had this powerful experience I began to understand where this boldness came from for them. I knew they had an experience, but I also knew that their knowledge of the Bible had a part in it. So I took up my bible and started to read in the first book of the New testament, Matthew.
The first thing that jumped out to me in Matthew’s Gospel was the preaching of John the baptizer. He claimed that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand! In a later chapter I read that Jesus also began preaching the same. I immediately thought: if the Kingdom of heaven was near to them then, how close could it be to us today, two thousand years later? I began to wonder if what I was now experiencing could be a taste of that very Kingdom! When I began to ask other more mature believers about this, I was amazed to learn that I was correct! In fact, they were able to show me even more evidence in the scripture that the Kingdom of God was already here for us who had experienced this righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit of God! (Romans 14:17)
Of course that was only the beginning of this adventure for me. I would have many more questions, and gain answers in time, but I am still not finished with my story. As I said, my problems were still with me. I was overwhelmed at the time, and felt helpless to do anything about them. What I needed was direction from God. I found this as I continued to read in the Gospel According To Matthew. When I came to chapter 6 I knew verses 25 through 34 were speaking directly to me. I had been worrying not only about my physical needs of food, shelter and clothing, but about the future in general. To Jesus, this did not make sense since I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and cares for me. How could I get a handle on this? what could I do to get my mind focused in the right direction?
The most powerful instruction I had ever received, which has guided me for the rest of my life was found in these words: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) While I had spent so much of my energy worrying and stressing over my problems, now I would change my focus. I would put my pursuit of God’s will, His ways, His Kingdom first above all other things. It seemed a bit risky at first. But what did I have to lose? My methods have failed me, trying to work things out on my own for years. Could I really trust in God that he would provide what I needed if I pursued His Kingdom first?
What followed was just too amazing. In a matter of months, my health improved, my financial situation began to improve, I found myself among a wonderful group of worshippers and had a new job working for a minister who taught me the bible every day as we worked together. The first steps for me were to return to my former church, to pray everyday, to read the bible and Christian writings everyday and to fast regularly. As I began to grow spiritually, the Holy spirit would teach me and lead me in other areas of His will for me. I have continued on this path to this day.
Going on 50 years later, I continue to be challenged by God to keep moving forward in Him. When things begin to get easier, or the road gets smoother, we can rest a while. However if we get too comfortable, that sense of adventure can diminish. Along with that our joy and passion for Him can fade and the worries of this life begin to take over again. No, it’s life right now, in the Kingdom of God for me. How about you?
The challenge to Kingdom Courage
Some of us have come to the realization that we are actually helpless in many ways. When it comes to certain weaknesses, (we all have weaknesses by the way), our fight to overcome them has failed time and time again. The good news is however, that God knows this, and that He has the solution.