Kingdom Living

A New Way To Receive This Content In Your Inbox (without getting spammed)

August 13th, 2022 · No Comments · Uncategorized

First, thank you for reading. Some of you have been with the site for over 10 years! That is incredibly humbling.

We have a few thousand email subscribers here on the site and that means a lot to me. If you are receiving this in your inbox, thank you!

I wanted to let you know about a new way to receive all of our related content in one email per week and that is through an easy to fill out form with mailchimp.

Here is our simple offering
We send out 1 email per week and that email offers you all of our blogs, youtube videos and podcasts from the past week. I also write one thought per email that you will only find in these weekly emails. We won’t share your info.

That’s it.

Try it out for a month…get those four emails…and if you don’t care for it, please just unsubscribe.

Here is the link to subscribe!

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My New Approach to Social Media

August 11th, 2022 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I am trying something new in August. I am posting scripture to Facebook.

I keep thinking about how much we need to be in the Word right now and instead I find myself scrolling past a zillion posts on who knows what.

The thought hit me earlier this month – what if I put scripture out on facebook, one chapter at a time…relevant chapters…so that people scrolling facebook might take a moment and read a chapter of the Bible today? I am pretty sure God has more important things to say than I do! Better you hear from Him than me!

And guess what? It is getting just a bit of traction.

You might want to try it yourself!

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Thor: Love and Thunder Addresses Theodicy

August 2nd, 2022 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Spoiler alert – if you don’t want to know what happens, don’t read this article.

Theodicy is the idea of finding a way to vindicate God in the midst of horrendous pain and suffering in His creation.

The movie opens up to a scene of suffering. Gorr’s daughter is dying in the desert. Upon her death Gorr finds himself entering into an oasis where he finds the god he has devoted his life to. Gorr finds out that this God cares nothing for him or his daughter. He finds out that his prayers have been meaningless…that the god(s) never intended on helping anyone but themselves.

He finds himself on a mission to slay the gods…to punish them for their misdeeds. This would be justice for gods who behave like this.

As silly as parts of the movie are, it is actually a very serious movie on the nature of God and the problem of suffering. If God is a good God then why does he allow so much pain and suffering?

Thor comes to the point of having to make a decision…either continue giving his time and attention to the “god butcher” Gorr or give his time and attention to dying Jane. Thorr (who is a god in the story) chooses love. Thor goes first in giving up on defending himself in order to show love to Jane. In doing so he unravels Gorr’s plan. In a poignant scene at the end of the movie Gorr asks why he would want (with his one wish) to bring his daughter back into a world like this…where the gods are malevolent and vindictive.

Through the experience of seeing Thor (a god) put himself last and put others first, Gorr makes a similar decision and ends his mission to kill the gods…bringing back his daughter instead even though it cost Gorr his life.

We know our God is not malevolent. Our God has also chosen love. In doing so God has allowed choice which means we can choose to cause a great deal of suffering. Love is not love unless there are competing options that can be freely chosen. The amazing thing about our God is that he has led the way when it comes to self-sacrifice and humility in what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Our God hears our prayers. Our God cares about the outcome. And our God is not afraid to die…because he did and came back again!

The problem with Gorr’s god is not a problem with the real God…our God is faithful even when it costs him everything.

It’s hard to live a life of greater character than the vision you have of who God is.

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Have We Forgotten How to Encourage?

July 26th, 2022 · No Comments · Uncategorized

With all the negativity out there, never lose your ability to be an encouragement to others. It is very hard to pour out from an empty tank. Our inability to encourage may come from the emptiness we face in our own lives.

It is also hard to encourage in a culture of outrage. There are so many things to be mad about (and that we are expected to be mad about) that it can be hard to look at the positive. The courageous thing to do is en-courage others even when things seem discouraging.

The truth of the matter is, there are still many positive things going on out there if we have eyes to see it.

Paul wrote four of his letters from prison…a Roman prison. That was one of the last places on earth you would ever want to find yourself. And yet he found it within him to encourage those he wrote to with verses like,

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Phil 1:3-6

And…

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Phil 1:18-21

Paul had every right to be bitter…to be consumed by critique of the injustice that had come his way. But instead of choosing to be consumed by that he choose to encourage those he care about the most.

If you feel empty, take some time with God. Slow down. Rest. Spend time in quiet…listening for God’s voice above the noise. God can remind you that He alone is enough. God can encourage you in spite of your difficult circumstances. God can enlarge our hearts to make room for both trouble and the courage to encourage.

Last, try. Just try…and what you will find is that the more you offer encouragement to others (even when you don’t feel like it) the better you will feel about it. The reward of a smile in return…to see someone else’s spirit uplifted…all reminders that a simple word of encouragement can go a long way.

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Do You Know the Context of “The Truth Will Set You Free”?

July 22nd, 2022 · 2 Comments · Discipleship

For several chapters of the gospel of John, Jesus is dealing with his opponents. They accuse him of many things and don’t believe his teaching. Jesus continues to try to point them to the truth by talking about how even Moses (who they value) points to Jesus (John 7:21-24).

Jesus continues to claim that He is only doing the will of His Father…which makes them even angrier.

After several chapters of making his point (John 7-8) Jesus finally sees some of the people start to believe in him. He turns to them in John 8:31-32 and says this,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

The truth sets us free only when we know it. How do we truly know it? To hold to the truth of Jesus’ teachings as his followers. Knowing is best done in action. To live the truth is to know the truth. Truth is not best known in the hypothetical.

The truth of Jesus’ teachings is not abstract. It is concrete, lived out in reality as disciples of Jesus. The truth of Jesus’ teaching is not hypothetical. It is real and it is practical and it has a real result in the lives of real people – being set free by truth.

There are just as many opponents to the truth of Jesus’ message today as there were then…and like Jesus’ day many of his opponents come from the inside rather than the outside. Those Jesus is rebuking in John are Jewish…they are the insiders. We see the same thing happening today. Many of those who have the hardest time with the truth of Jesus are those inside the church not those outside the church.

Last, there is one more effect of knowing and living the truth of Jesus and that is growing in love for Christ. He goes on to say this, “If God were your Father you would love me, for I came from God and now am here (John 8:42).”

If you want to know the truth to be set free by the truth you will follow Jesus, learn his truth to live his truth and see that it produces a deeper and wider love for Christ in your life. If your walk with Christ isn’t producing freedom or a deeper love then we need to double down on following Jesus as his disciples.

True freedom is found in the love of Christ that is developed from a life devoted to following Christ. As long as we try to have it our way we will never find freedom. So let us let go of our desire to be in charge and let us follow Jesus to find true freedom!

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Many Church Divisions Are Caused By the Same Thing

July 20th, 2022 · 8 Comments · Christianity, Leadership

We tend to think churches split over disagreements on issues but typically churches split over personalities rather than issues. The issues are the symptom. The personality problems are the underlying cause.

Most church divisions could be avoided if we could get the personalities out of the ways…the factions and subgroups…those who follow Paul vs Apollos vs Jesus.

Some strong personalities cannot imagine being in a church where they don’t get their way. The reality is, it didn’t matter what the issue being discussed really was. Eventually it would have been something because personalities rarely change. People with these personalities can take a church captive and cause a tremendous amount of damage, undermining years of work.

The “doctrinal issue” is often a smoke screen or a scare tactic used to get people in line…to demonstrate this person’s ability to influence and control others.

They may not even be in leadership, often times they aren’t in leadership. Why? Because they want the power without the responsibility. That’s why they don’t mind dividing a church because they get to wield their power and influence without bearing the cost of the responsibility for the fallout and hurt that follow.

It takes strong leadership to resist people like this and often our leaders are volunteers who aren’t prepared to weather a battle like this or prevent the split from taking place. We need strong leaders with a strong relationship with both God and the flock and those two relationships must be formed far before the problems arise. This allows the congregation to trust their leaders through these difficult moments and determine the divisive people for who they are so that the whole church doesn’t have to suffer from the division…rather you can weed out the people who are causing the problems and handle it there.

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.” – Titus 3:9-11

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Legalism Kills the Fruit of the Spirit

July 9th, 2022 · 3 Comments · Galatians, New Testament

If you think you can work your way to salvation there is no need for the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-26). When I was younger I really believed that if I got it all right that I was in the right camp and therefore, God would save me. On the flip side I believe that there were hundreds of things that if I got wrong would send me straight to hell…that God’s grace wasn’t able even to deal with a simple misunderstanding.

It really had a lot more to do with my performance than with God’s grace.

As I went down that trail for some time what I saw over and over in myself and those who were a bit further down that trail than I was was that the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) were not only lacking…they were absent.

When you hinge salvation on your own ability and performance, the attitude and disposition of the heart go neglected. They go neglected because we are filled with pride rather than humility. We focus on the outward acts rather than the inward man because in doing so we “win” the day. To look inward would only result in defeat…so we avoid that self-examination at all costs.

The heart full of pride will struggle to produce the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is best produced in a heart that is contrite and dependent on God in all things.

If you look around and you notice your peers lack the fruit of the Spirit, you might ask yourself why that is the case. You might take a good look at your life and ask why the very qualities the Holy Spirit produces in the lives of the followers of Jesus are lacking. It might just be that you aren’t following Jesus but you are following your own pride instead.

Look at your mentors…do they have the fruit of the Spirit or are they lacking? Are they angry, hate-filled, arrogant? Or are they filled with love, joy, peace, patience, etc…

The legalist will always struggle in the fruit of the Spirit department and that should raise alarm! At least it did for me (still working on it and even moreso still relying on God for it!). I hope this helps someone else out there who was raised in the extreme conservative side of things but just can’t quite put your finger on what isn’t adding up!

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How To Make An Idol Out of Anything

July 1st, 2022 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

What kinds of things consume your thinking?

Why are the things on your list on your list?

Maybe you think about work all the time because you fear not having what you need. Maybe you grew up without the means to be okay and you don’t want to see your family go through that. So you live in fear that the wheels are going to fall off one day and you work diligently to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That makes practical sense but be careful to not allow your diligence to become an idol that you worship that negates the need to trust in God.

Some people are busy because they think the world just can’t go on without them. Self can be an idol too! Pride is the attitude of self-worship.

Others worship leisure and sports. Multi-billions of dollars are spent every year on college football, for instance. People gather in the holy temple of the pigskin and their week is good or bad based on the outcome of that sacred assembly and whether or not they got indigestion from the chili-dog.

Still other people make a god out of sex, hunger/satiation, or other desires. They worship pleasure and seek it at every opportunity. As Paul said, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” – Phil 3:19

Last, some people worry all the time. It is possible to make a god out of security and worry every moment you have angered the gods of chaos!

Biblical wisdom

When something consumes our thinking we need to consider where it is coming from and whether or not we have made an idol of something. Let us do as Paul says right after the verse above,

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” – Phil 3:20-21

There is only one Savior and it isn’t sex, drugs, money, power, worry, or busyness…it is Jesus. He alone is worthy of our constant attention and consumed thinking! So let us do as the Hebrew writer told us to do and fix our eyes on Him! (Heb 12:2)

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God & Money: Why There Is Never a Money Problem in the Kingdom

June 28th, 2022 · 1 Comment · God

Since we planted a church we have discovered that God has a different system of accounting than we do. We like to call it “God math.” When we lived under the umbrella of “big church” we didn’t have much concern for money. Things were stable and secure. But in church planting, you become a lot more reliant on God and are far more in tune with what God is providing.

I want to tell a story that is a direct reflection on the kind of God we serve. This story isn’t a promise…that if you do such and such then God will do such and such. God doesn’t operate like a formula. It is a principle rather than a promise and an example of what our BIG GOD can do! I hope it encourages you to cast vision and work to carry it out…and watch God take care of the rest!

The Story

When we resigned from our “big church” preaching position we had saved some money to pay the bills in between ministries. We resigned effective October 15, 2020 which meant we were cash flowed through November 15. When we hit the end of November we got an unexpected tax refund that floated us through the end of November. Some time in November/December the government was sending stimulus checks and I also received pay from some organizations for work I had done over 6 months prior that I wasn’t sure when it was going to come in.

We hit the end of November…still plenty of money to pay the bills. Same in December and January…all the way to half way through February! It was unreal. We never touched that savings account and we never asked anyone to support us during those months. I have heard people share stories like that but had never experienced it first hand!

I cannot begin to tell you how affirming it was – that God had us in His hand and that we didn’t have to be afraid.

This happened again last week. We were raising $7000 for a specific mission we have coming up and on short notice. We needed another $3000 within 10 days. I had just gotten off the phone with an elder when I got a text about our online giving not working. When I checked our system to see what the problem was…there it was…the other $3000 had already come through! I had to let that elder know that we were good! How often do you ever unask for money? God had met the need already from people I had never heard of before!

Vision, Intention, and Means

Dallas Willard used to say that where there is vision and intention, God will provide the means. He called this VIM. We have seen this over and over again and so I am thankful that we can brag on God a bit…his math is not like our math!

“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
    I will testify against you, Israel:
    I am God, your God.
I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
    or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
I have no need of a bull from your stall
    or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
    and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?”
– Psalm 50:7-13

In ministry it is never a money problem. It might be a vision problem. It might be an intention problem…but never, ever a money problem! God will give you what you need to do what He said to do. Period.

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Have We Given Up Studying the Bible With People?

June 15th, 2022 · 1 Comment · Bible, Bible Study, Evangelism

What do you think about someone when you hear they have Bible studies with people? Does it make them seem like a super Christian? Maybe they sound like a saint?

What if that was just an ordinary thing to do? What if being a saint was just another word for being a Christian, because that is what Paul thought…starting his letters off by calling God’s people saints.

Why don’t we?

Maybe we don’t study the Bible with people because we don’t study the Bible ourselves? And maybe we don’t talk with others about it because we don’t have faith that the Holy Spirit will help those conversations go well.

So we are left with little knowledge and little power and it only makes sense that we would feel stuck in our tracks when it comes to helping others come to know Jesus on a deeper level. We can’t take people deeper in the pool than we are willing to go ourselves.

But here is a little secret

The most important things in the Bible don’t require a PhD to figure out – they are actually quite simple and have been easily sharable for thousands of years!

So let’s get back in the Word. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit for help. Let’s walk with people through the Word and watch and see what God does with it. You will never go wrong!

Here is a little tool to help keep things simple. It’s called Discovery Bible study and you can use it with anyone, anywhere…all you need is a verse. I suggest you start using it for daily study. Then start asking others to study with you and use it together. Then see what God does!

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