Archive for category #kingdomofheaven

At Home in a Tree House

Mark 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know-how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables, he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. [NRSA: Mark 4:26-34]

The kingdom of God is like a flock of bird finding the home in a tree. 

One of my favorite parsonages as a child we only lived in for six months. The parsonage was built because the DS told my father the old house was too small to move a family into. (That DS never thought Mac would later become a DS.) The new parsonage was fun not because it was a brick ranch with lots of square feet and new appliances, it was a special place because there were plenty of building supplies leftover to build a treehouse.

My treehouse was nothing like Nelson’s Treehouses on television, it was a platform with crude walls and slanted roof, with a trapdoor and pull system to lift supplies up the six feet into the air. The rope ladder could be rolled up to keep friends safe and jealous neighbor bullies at bay. 

One of the early books I remember enjoying was, “We Were Tired of Living in a House” by Liesel Moak Skorpen, Joe Cepeda. It was a new book in 1969 and I was eager to imagine the new house we would next be moving to live in. 

Through the years I have lived in houses that church has provided our family. It is an interesting benefit of making it easy for pastors to move frequently and to remain, typically within sight of the church. When my father started his ministry the after the appointment was about two years. And now with housing allowances and longer tenures, we hold to an itinerate system of moving from church to church throughout a pastor’s career. With 53 years of my life having lived church-provided or funded housing. It is personally interesting to think about where we call home.

Mom always had a piece of needlework framed in every home, that reminded us of the quote, “Bloom where you are planted.” (Context/History)  [Is ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’ in the Bible? Danielle Bernock, Crosswalk.com, Contributing Writer] Its Origin and Meaning: The sentiment can be found in Scripture, but not the exact words: “bloom where you are planted.” The popular phrase means to be fruitful, make the best of life when it throws lemons at you, and do what’s right, even when it’s hard. Is ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’ in the Bible? Its Origin and Meaning: The phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” gets thrown around a lot. Many think it originated from the Bible, and others know this isn’t true. The sentiment can be found in Scripture, but not the exact words. An American graphic artist and illustrator made the phrase famous with her book, Mary Englebreit: The Art and the Artist, but she didn’t originate the phrase. An American radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey used the phrase a decade before Mary’s book, yet he was not the originator of it either. So, where did it come from? “Bloom Where You Are Planted” has a similar origin to the Celtic Cross — we only know some things and cannot confirm others. What Does “Bloom Where You Are Planted” Mean?

“Bloom Where You Are Planted” can mean various things depending on its usage.

To be fruitful, blossom, become all you were created to be. Make the best of what you have when life throws lemons at you. Do what’s right, even when it’s hard. Each has its place and even corresponding Scripture, which I’ll elaborate on.

1. Be Fruitful

Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), when he was the Bishop of Geneva is recorded as saying this: “Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.” As you can see, it’s not a direct quote of the idiom but carries its meaning.  I believe the words of St. Francis de Sales were inspired by words in the Bible. In the book of Genesis. After God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them and told them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Another Scripture describes a believer’s fruitful flourishing by trusting in God. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Scripture and other writings such as these encourage us to be all God has made us be. 

2. Make the Best of Life

Using the phrase in this way encourages resilience. Sometimes life is hard. Things don’t always go according to plan. Even in less than wonderful situations, we have control over how we respond. Blooming where we are planted is to make the choice to respond in a positive manner. It’s in agreement with another familiar phrase about making lemonade when life throws you lemons. When many Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they were in a less than a wonderful situation. But God told them, in a way, to bloom where they were planted for that time. “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

3. Do What’s Right

Doing what’s right when it’s hard is — hard. Perhaps that’s why Paul gives this instruction in 1 Corinthians 7: 20-24, which is another place we find the sentiment of blooming where we are planted. This passage does not sanction human slavery, especially in the way slavery was practiced in the West during the 17th-19th centuries. Instead, this passage is a call to honor God above men. “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them” (1 Corinthians 7:20-24).

“Bloom Where You Are Planted” Doesn’t Mean to Stay Stuck

Blooming where you are planted doesn’t mean you can’t improve yourself or must stay stuck in an awful place. Let me remind you of the line above, “if you can gain your freedom, do so” (vs. 21). The Bible is full of words encouraging us to grow and change. There are times to bloom where we are planted, and times for us to be transplanted so we can bloom even better elsewhere. Just follow the Lord where he leads. The sentiment of the phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” has been around for centuries, but the first publication of the exact phrase cannot be verified.

Make you home in the Lord: The kingdom of God is a the place we are to feel at home. 

Music notes with solid fill

 This World Is Not My Home, by Jim Reeves

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through, My treasures are laid up, Somewhere beyond the blue

The Angels beckon me, From Heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore

Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like you, If Heaven’s not my home, Then Lord what will I do

The Angels beckon me, From Heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore.

Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Mary Reeves Davis

We have an important character to examine in this parable. The invitation is not to see a tree that is home to one bird but to all the birds of the air.

There are many types of birds, but the invitation is to share a common home. In our modern wisdom, we have come to believe that that means we are working to find some least common denominator of tolerance of the widest sample of diversity, but that is not our invitation.

The invitation is for us all to find our home in God. Period. Drop the mic and should stop here. 

One of the great opportunities of moving in ministry is the opportunity to review the items that fill our house and ask the question does this connected me to God’s or to the world? I’m I holding on to memory because I’m scared, afraid, or lonely, OR am I keeping reminders of the faith story that each of us is personally sharing throughout our lives?

There are experiences such as natural disasters, pandemics, death, as well the choices we make and the challenges we accept or avoid, make up our idea of home, and where we belong. 

The real message for the church today is this, in what tree do we find our home? Is it God’s tree, the world’s tree, or the world’s tree that we slap on God’s name?

The test to answer where we make our home is measure by God and not what is popular at any given time in human history. Are we building a home that draws on God’s blessing, FOR God’s blessing!

Our measure is NOT to find everyone the same branch, God gifts, entrusts and blesses us differently.

Our measure is NOT to use God’s purpose for the world’s purpose, for then it ceases to be God’s.

Finding our home in God is the present we seek. Find it by building your life in Gods word, with other birds like us who belong to God and not the world.

Leave a comment

Revelation 21:22-22:5 Dealing with Sin

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. [NRSV]

Physical images in Heaven:

  • A city with no temple
  • Gates that are never shut
  • River of the water of life
  • Tree of life
  • Bearing twelve kinds f fruit
  • Leaves of healing for the nations
  • Throne for the lamb
  • Light of the Lord

Features of Heaven

Open Gates:

  • The gates are never shut
  • Heaven s not a gated community

This flies in the face of

Radiant Glory

  • People will bring in the glory of the nations
  • Kings will bring their glory into it

Heaven has no place for sin

The proof that we are not in heaven is that sin is plentiful, abundant and rampant.

This is where we pull away from the glorious mystery of thinking about the new heaven that awaits us, knowing it will be far more and far better than out imagining can ever dream.

To be in heaven is to be in God’s presence, fulfilled and yet as fully ourselves.

The brokenness that we live in is the reality of sin

John is shown these glimpses of heaven to wet our appetite for more

When we loose something and find it,

we tell others, “it was in the last place I looked!”

Which begs the question do you keep searching once you have found what was lost?

The power of sin

  • We live in a state where we cannot stay “found”,
  • We live in the reality of our own sin
  • We live in the reality of the effect of the sins of others
  • We live in the reality of evil working tempt, test and make sin easier than doing good

So wait until the end?

Paul’s suggestion to sin all we like, because we have grace? No! By no means.

This does not bring glory to God, to others, nor ourselves.

We are witnesses of trusting in a sinful broken world

  • Practice trusting a Christ
  • Encourage others to trust Grace in Christ, and
  • Glorify God for the nations of the world.

Dealing with Sin

Certainly we can blame the devil, the wealthy, the poor, our neighbor and previous generations, anyone one or thing we can blame, but that is not the solution.

Being in God (now and in heaven)

Getting into heaven means necessitates us addressing or sins

The “How To” section

We pretty much expect Jesus to already have taken care of that..and we just need the occasional buster shot, but what if we continue to be

  • selfish,
  • envy,
  • prideful,
  • lustful,
  • greedy,
  • apathy,
  • impatience or
  • wrath.

Focus on God’s help doing the opposite to reflect God’s glory by showing

  • humility,
  • kindness,
  • moderation/temperance,
  • charity,
  • chastity,
  • fidelity and diligence, and
  • patience.

Both lists call for

  • Practice
  • Progress, and
  • Persistence

Both lists, avoiding the evil and committing to the glorious, require Christ be in the throne, in heaven and in our hearts, minds and soul.

But the truth is that we can only live by these with the help of the holy Spirit and we we only find release from the power of the sin through Christ

Leave a comment

Psalm 19 “Finding God’s Story”

heavens

The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard, yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens, he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is a great reward. But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. [NRSV]

Begin with the ending:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Some preachers quote this verse as a little insurance policy. “I hope what I say is acceptable to you because I’m standing up here in front of everyone speaking in your name.” At best, we quote this verse as a declaration: that what comes out of our mouths should reflect God that is revealed in the world around us; God who is our foundation and salvation.

This passage is not just for preachers: All who are in Christ speak of God’s work, love, plan, and law, even if we never say a word. We need God to live and share the life that is joyful, full and true.

Seeing God in the Heavens

Look to the heavens to see the presence and power of God.

The heavens are telling the glory of God’s purpose and abilities.

The earth reveals the evidence of God’s work and plans.

  • God is with us, “Day by Day”
  • One image of God is that of an engine who designs a grand machine, starts the motor and sits back to see what the creation will do.
  • The Psalmist is proclaiming that God is with us every day and every night.
  • Speaking without words and sounds: The witness of design and process.
  • The stars, planets, comets, asteroids, light, dark matter, energy, and gravity are evident even though we have no words to create them, nor order them, nor change them.
  • There is beauty in the heavens, as a groom and bride look at one another and see with love and joy.

Seeing God in the Workings of the Earth

The earth is working like a strong laborer that takes no break and strives with joy that is unending.

  • The seasons and calendars to measure and plan,
  • the way seeds and soil work together,
  • the way water and clouds work,
  • the way populations are reproduced, t
  • the way air and nutrients sustain all that is living.

Together All things work together to witness God is present and working with us.

The Sun, stars, and planets are the beginning and the ends, they are interdependently operating in a connected system. The light and heat of the sun is greater than anything we can create

2. The Law of the Lord is perfect [enough for all things, people, and times.]

The purpose of the Law of the Lord is to revive the soul.

  • Decrees are sure, both simple and wise
  • Precepts are right, to give joy to the heart and soul.
  • Commandments are clear, informative, pure, enduring,
  • Ordinances are true and righteous

Together these are of more value that much-refined gold and sweeter than fresh, raw honey from the hive.

3. We See and Know, but so what?

The purpose of the Law is to be a warning.

Our reward is found in keeping the Law…

4. Why bother and Where to Start?

Problem: Who can determine who, when, why, how we have not kept them all truly?

Solution: God clears me from my faults, failures, sins and all evil…

  • Protect me from those who tempt and lure, entice, me from your power and law..
  • Protect me from me. Don’t’ let others have dominion, rule, power or control of my life, purpose, work, and joy.
  • If you protect me,  I will be blameless, if I am left alone will be lost in my transgressions.
  • THEREFORE. Protect me from what I say, think, do and believe.

I need you to save me and be the one who I trust

  • in all things,
  • at all times,
  • in all ways.

Leave a comment

Trust the Old Story for New Life

Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52

He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes." And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. [NRSV]

Jesus the parable painter

  • Mustard seed
  • Yeast
  • Treasure hidden
  • Pearl
  • Net

Every story is a out the same thing. The kingdom of Heaven. Billy Graham preached for all his years and always the same sermon: Jesus Christ and him crucified fir our sins.

Parables train us for what is new and old.
Scripture through the eyes of
tradition AND
reason and
experience.
Not any one or two of the other.

The Old is the scripture the new is the contemporary context. Jesus is giving the new as examples of the old

Jesus is establishing building blocks: look at the pieces.

Mustard seed
The kingdom of heaven is larger and with more purpose then we can imagine

Yeast
The kingdom of heaven spreads and transforms whatever it comes in contact with

Treasure hidden
The kingdom of heaven is worth security and investing in pursuing

Pearl
The kingdom of heaven is something to be searched for and pursued and is worth more than what we have

Net
The invitation to the kingdom of heaven is open to a home but not everyone will find it is their home for eternity.

The kingdom of heaven:
1. TKoH is more than we expect
2. TKoH is to be shared
3. TKoH is worth the journey
4. TKoH cost everything
5. TKoH is open to all but all will not find it home

TKoH

  • begins here and now
  • Is found when we share it
  • Is the labor of our life
  • Is priceless
  • Some will give it up

Is Gods Heavenly Kingdom

  1. Something you are experiencing
  2. Are you Sharing it
  3. Is your life devoted to loving God completely more than thinking God correctly
  4. Are you at home in God, with the People of God now?

Bottom line: get to

  • living
  • giving & sharing
  • loving & trusting
  • Building & doing and
  • worshiping & growing

Or else (Parables can kick us in the butt)

  1. You just have a seed stuck in you shoe
  2. You just have the ingredients but no cake
  3. You just have treasure but never use it
  4. You just stay busy without joy
  5. You talk and think but are like the grass that withers when it dies.

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: