Many Christians equate the Church and the Kingdom of God. This is simplistic, but clearly Kingdom principles must be worked out in the church first, as an example and to draw others into God's Kingdom.
In the Kingdom of God, people should not dominate others, but serve each other (Luke 22:24-26). This principle should shape all that we do, including our organisations. Unfornately, the Church has not applied this principle, but has instead copied its management structures from the world. Bishops and Boards of Directors and Pastor/Leaders cannot demonstrate Kingdom government.
There was no government in the Garden of Eden, because there were no disputes to resolve. Even after the fall, civil government was not immediately needed, because families dealt with all disputes.
The need for civil government arose when people started to live in close proximity. Civil Governments was need to resolve conflict and limit theft and violence.
The incarnation, cross resurrection and ascension established Jesus as king of kings, lord of lords and government of governments. All kings and governments must submit to him.
Many human governments, perhaps most, are part of Satan’s kingdom. This happens when people in power use their power to do evil, or for purposes that go against or beyond God’s will.
The role of the state is limited to defence and justice.
Defence is limited to rare situations, where an army is invading, and there is a possibility of defeating it with a part-time militia that has allowed everyone who is afraid or has domestic commitments to go home. Defence really is a last resort.
Justice is limited to theft and violence. The punishment of theft is limited to restitution. The penalty for violence is generally limited to restitution. The death penalty is allowed, but only for really horrendous crimes that have been witnessed by two or more independent witnesses.
As the Kingdom of God expands, human governments will be transformed. God will shake them, so they collapse. Christians must be prepare to share the gospel when this happens. We must also be ready to explain how God’s government works.
Civil government will shrink. Authority will be pushed down and diffused among many people.
In the Magnificat, Mary prophesied what God would do through Jesus.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53).
Mary did not prophesy that kings would be replaced by constitutional democracies. She did not say that Herod would establish a department of social welfare or start providing food stamps. She warned that rulers would be brought down from their thrones and the ordinary people would be able to govern themselves. She said that the poor would be able to provide themselves with food through God’s blessings on their own endeavours.
If kings are brought down from their thrones, kingdoms must go too. They do not get replaced by nation states or parliaments, but by communities networked in the Kingdom of God.
God kept his word and destroyed Herod’s power in AD 70. Then he destroyed the Roman Empire. The Church missed the point, and tried to prop up the Roman empire, by establishing the Holy Roman empire.
The Church has been trying to maintain the power of the state ever since. We have been fighting against Mary’s prophecy, because we do not understand the Kingdom of God. If Jesus is King, then parliament is not.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
This is too Good NOT to be passed along so I will:
If the polls are to be believed, the Republicans who control the White House and Congress are in trouble.
People vote their pocketbooks, or wallets, the old adage goes.
But the economy is booming. Even gasoline prices have plummeted. Unemployment, the bogeyman of politicians, has shrunken to a record low point.
As for the security matter, since 9/11, the worst attack on American soil since the Civil War, the United States has been free of any significant terrorist attack. None. Zippo. Zilch.
If Americans do vote the GOP out of either House of Congress, many of these accomplishments are threatened.
Should Democrats get control of the House of Representatives, they have already promised that one of the Republican initiatives that made all these things possible will be rolled back.
Higher taxes -- and with it, economic recession and more unemployment.
The Democrats will also signal the terrorists a "victory" for their side with a push for a quick withdrawal from Iraq. Remember, the Congress, not the president, funds our troops abroad. A Democratic Congress will most assuredly withhold funding unless Bush relents.
The list of Republican accomplishments is both long and real, and provides the platform upon which even greater results will be built under a Republican Congress and White House.
For sure, the GOP has had its share of shortcomings. The economy could be doing better. The deficit could be smaller. The postwar plans in Iraq could have been better implemented.
If anything, the Republicans are facing a message deficit. The liberal media establishment is just not letting them tell their story to the American people.
Here are 10 good reasons why you should vote Republican come election day. You won't hear about them on ABCCBSNBC News.
Reason #1. The economy is kicking butt. It is robust, vibrant, strong and growing. In the 36 months since the Bush tax cuts ended the recession that began under President Clinton, the economy has experienced astonishing growth. Over the first half of this year, our economy grew at a strong 4.1 percent annual rate, faster than any other major industrialized nation. This strong economic activity has generated historic revenue growth that has shrunk the deficit. A continued commitment to spending restraint has also contributed to deficit reduction.
Reason #2. Unemployment is almost nil for a major economy, and is verging on full employment. Recently, jobless claims fell to the lowest level in 10 weeks. Employment increased in 48 states over the past 12 months ending in August. Our economy has now added jobs for 37 straight months.
Reason #3. The Dow is hitting record highs. In the past few days, the Dow climbed above 12,000 for the first time in the history of the stock market, thus increasing the value of countless pension and 401(k) that funds many Americans rely on for their retirement years.
Reason #4. Wages have risen dramatically. According to the Washington Post, demand for labor helped drive workers' average hourly wages, not including those of most managers, up to $16.84 last month -- a 4 percent increase from September 2005, the fastest wage growth in more than five years. Nominal wage growth has been 4.1 percent so far this year. This is better or comparable to its 1990s peaks. Over the first half of 2006, employee compensation per hour grew at a 6.3 percent annual rate adjusted for inflation. Real after-tax income has risen a whopping 15 percent since January 2001. Real after-tax income per person has risen by 9 percent since January 2001.
Reason #5. Gas prices have plunged. According to the Associated Press, the price of gasoline has fallen to its lowest level in more than 10 months. The federal Energy Information Administration said Monday that U.S. motorists paid $2.21 a gallon on average for regular grade last week, a decrease of 1.8 cents from the previous week. Pump prices are now 40 cents lower than a year ago and have plummeted by more than 80 cents a gallon since the start of August. The previous 2006 low for gasoline was set in the first week of January, when pump prices averaged $2.238. In the week ending Dec. 5, 2005, prices averaged $2.19. Today, gasoline can be found for less than $2 a gallon in many parts of the country.
Reason #6. Since 9/11, no terrorist attacks have occurred on U.S. soil. Since 9/11 the U.S. has not been attacked by terrorists thanks to such programs as the administration's monitoring of communications between al-Qaida operatives overseas and their agents in the U.S. and the monitoring of the international movement of terrorist funds -- both measure bitterly opposed by Democrats.
Reason #7. Productivity is surging and has grown by a strong 2.5 percent over the past four quarters, well ahead of the average productivity growth in the last 30 years. Strong productivity growth helps lead to the growth of the Gross Domestic Product, higher real wages, and stronger corporate profits.
Reason #8. The Prescription Drug Program is working. Despite dire predictions that most seniors would refrain from signing up to the new Medicare prescription benefits program, fully 75 percent of all those on Medicare have enrolled, and the overwhelming majority say they are happy with the program.
Reason #9. Bush has kept his promise of naming conservative judges. He has named two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. In addition, he has named conservative justices who are devoted to the Constitution as it is written and not as activist liberal judges think it means. The strong likelihood that one or more justices will retire from the Supreme Court makes it mandatory for the Republicans to hold the Senate and have a chance to name new conservative justices.
Reason #10. The deficit has been cut in half three years ahead of the president's 2009 goal, with the 2006 fiscal year budget deficit down to $248 billion. The tax cuts have stimulated the economy and are working.
In contrast to this stunning record of real achievement, the Democrats offer no real plans for the way they want to improve America or make us safer.
Instead, issues like the Mark Foley scandal have been used to smokescreen their own lack of ideas in a public debate.
The choice voters will make is whether they want higher taxes and less security by surrendering the tools used to combat terrorism or lower taxes and the continued use of tools like the Patriot Act, terrorist surveillance, terrorist interrogations and missile defense.
Consider what leading Democrats are promising if they gain control of Congress.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., who would lead the House tax-writing committee if Democrats win in November, said he "cannot think of one" tax cut he would renew. That agenda would result in $2.4 trillion tax increase over the next 10 years.
If Democrats take majorities in the House and Senate, the average family of four can expect to pay an average of $2,000 more in taxes.
The leader of House Democrats and the woman who would be speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after 9/11 that she "doesn't really consider ourselves at war ... we're in a struggle against terrorism."
By opposing the Patriot Act, terrorist surveillance missile defense and even interrogating the most dangerous terrorists captured on the battlefield, Democrats are in direct opposition to the vital tools we use to fight terrorism.
Many Democrats, including the prospective House Ways and Means chairman, favor cutting off funding for the war in Iraq.
Democratic leaders have made it clear that they see investigations and impeachment as viable options should they take control of Congress. They are therefore promising to tie the hands of the president and his administration in the middle of a war.
Democrats want to reverse the president's economic policies that have led to a historically strong economy.
Written byPhil Brennan, NewsMax.com
Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Well for me and for some friends of mine who lost a son on this day 5 years ago, the year 2001 was indeed a horrible year. 9-11, business collapses, all kinds of terrible things happened in 2001 for many people. Life changed that year for many and it has never been the same since.
Loss and pain. There is no easy way to describe what took place that year.
I remember the Phone Call. Late in the night. The horror of it all. 5 years ago tonight.
But time heals all wounds, right? No, wounds are wounds. We live with our wounds. We try to recover from out wounds but they are always there. We are never the same. We never go back to what we were before because we are never again who we were.
That night has caused me to think and grieve often. I’ll never be able to forget. It will never be a long lost memory. It is always there somewhere.
But they, the parents, go on. They see life with sadness that is earned by ripping loss. They stand on the pain and move ahead. There is no other option. There is no other comfort.
I can make all the proper ministerial announcements. They all have the effect of either reinforcing or flying in the face of what has already been decided. In the end, all we have is hope. Blessed Hope. That’s what Paul the Apostle called it. The Blessed Hope. Leaving here being there.
Some people have been there and come back to give a report. It makes the transition from time into eternity seem less ominous. I only know this, it’s not your sin that condemns you if you trust Christ, it’s rejecting him that places one in jeopardy. It has much to do with the direction we point are lives, toward him or running from him. Even running can be redeemed if our running is halted by a repentant heart. So with that in mind, I believe I can give a report from the other side.
There was a man by the name of Don Piper. He was killed in a car accident and died. He was dead for an hour and a half. He was prayed back to life. While dead he describes what he saw. He wrote it in a book called, “90 Minutes in Heaven”.
He crashes into a bridge abutment and is killed instantly and the next thing he experienced was
“Joy pulsed thru me as I looked around. I became aware of a crowd of people. They stood in front of a brilliant ornate gate. I didn’t see Jesus but I did see people I had known. I knew instantly I had known all of them and they had all died during my lifetime. The presence of them seemed absolutely natural.
Every person was smiling, shouting and praising God. Although no on said so, I knew they were a celestial welcoming committee. It was as if they had all gathered outside heavens gate waiting for me”.
Don then relates meeting again and seeing many people from his past. Grandparents, friends, teachers. He goes on:
“Everything I experienced was like a first class buffet for the senses. I had never felt such powerful embrace or feasted on such beauty. Heavens light and texture defies early eyes or explanation. Warm radiant light engulfed me. I could hardly grasp the vivid dazzling colors. Every hue and tone surpassed anything I had ever seen.
Everything glowed with intense brightness. As we began to move toward the light everything seems to grow taller. Like a gentle hill that moved upward and never stopped. The light engulfed me and I had the sense I was being ushered into the presence of God. It was a celebration of my senses.
My most vivid memory of heaven is the music. What I heard. I can only describe it as the whoosh of wings. Except I would have to magnify that thousands of times to explain what heaven sounds like. It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I’ve ever heard. It seemed to go on forever. I was awestruck only wanting to listen. I didn’t hear music, it seemed like I was part of the music—it played in and thru my body. I stood still and felt embraced by the music.
I felt the deepest joy I ever experienced. I wasn’t a participant in the worship but my heart rang out with exuberance for what I was in.
I was home. I was where I belonged. I wanted to be there more than I had ever wanted to be anywhere on earth. Time had slipped away and I was simply present in heaven. All worries, anxieties and concerns vanished. I had no needs and I felt absolutely perfect.”
I lost my parents in a motor vehicle accident when I was 13 years old. I often wondered what they felt, what they experienced as it happened, what it was like.
In reading Don Pipers book maybe I know a little more. It’s available in all bookstores commonly. If you want to get a glimpse of the other side it’s a good read.
So, I would say to my Mom and Dad and Mark, rest in peace. If I understand it they are living in perfect peace and joy over there and it is we who must rest in peace: The peace of God that passes all understanding, guard our hearts and mind from anything that would interrupt our peace even in pain. It’s all in Christ Jesus.
Life goes on with pain until we are perfected over there.
Evenso come Lord Jesus.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Sometimes I get discouraged. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I am living in the past. It takes a swift kick along side the head to make me ask questions I didn’t want to ask. That’s why this article by Jim Rutz (Mega-Shift) hit me pretty hard. My paradigm was messed with.
I love congregational worship and involvement when it is full and free. I put myself in the place to experience this a couple times a week. Why can’t church be like Rutz describes? It’s not the people. It’s the leaders. I am one. So it’s me. Ouch.
In the old Spectator Christianity, you go to a large building once a week, sit down in a row, and keep your mouth shut except for the singing, which often these days is drowned out by high-powered sound systems cranked up past ninety decibels.
This kind of frozen religion is a vestige of the days of our forefathers, when the pastor/priest was the only person worth listening to and was often, in fact, the only one who could read.
Even today there is such a gulf between the clergy and laity that you dare not send in a lay substitute for your pastor to fill the pulpit when the good reverend is sick or on vacation. The result would typically be somewhere between embarrassing and pathetic.
In other words, what we have today is an outdated, two-tiered church composed of performers and spectators, producers and consumers. As a layman, you go to church, play the role, put some token money in the plate, shake hands with a few friends, go home, and turn on the game.
The pastor, on the other hand, is stringently required to spend hours polishing an uplifting sermon, especially in Protestant churches. (The most commonly heard reason for leaving a church is, "I wasn't being fed.") The pastor is expected to be the Holy Man wearing Holy Robes standing in the Holy Pulpit in God's Holy House on the Holy Day to preach the Holy Sermon (the term spoon-feeding springs to mind). By playing our very limited role in this unbiblical charade, we peons accumulate Brownie points and are somehow absolved from any failure to do our part.
This, my friend, is miles and miles from the exciting picture of the church that we see in the New Testament, which commands us in 54 places to do various good things for "one another": love one another, honor one another, bear one another's burdens. All an impossibility when we're sitting silently in rows. It commands us to keep the family of God highly interactive and we disobey this word from the Lord to our own peril.
My happy news for you today is that this interactive, high-responsibility church is growing rapidly around the world, even as the traditional, institutional, top-down, pyramid church is fading. Twenty years from now, according to top pollster George Barna, 65 to 70 percent of the Christians in the U.S. will be in The New Christianity: small house churches, office churches, and campus churches, where all of us will be learning to use our individual spiritual gifts: teaching, helping, praying, encouraging, singing, dancing, reaching out to help the lost, and changing the world.
What sparked this column was an article from John White, U.S. coordinator of Dawn Ministries, quoting statistics compiled by St. Louis pastor Darrin Patrick based in turn on research by Barna and Focus on the Family. The article contains much wisdom even for non-Christians, and I suggest you read it. Unintentionally, it also sounds the death knell of the institutional church system. How? By simply outlining the plight of today's traditional pastors:
* 80 percent of U.S. pastors and 84 percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
* 80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave in the first five years.
* 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
* Almost 40% polled said they have had an extramarital affair since beginning their ministry.
* 70 percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they're preparing their sermons.
* 70 percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
* 50 percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
* 50 percent of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.
Add to this the tortured feelings of pastors' wives:
Eighty percent of pastors' spouses feel their spouse is overworked and wish they would choose another profession. The majority add that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage was the day they entered the ministry.
Makes you wonder if this is really what God had in mind for His church, doesn't it?
By Jim Rutz
Monday, October 23, 2006
Here are 17 things one of the richest men in America said about being in business for yourself:
2. You must LOVE what you do. If you don’t love it you will quit doing it.
3. Never Never give up. Keep on, don’t quit. If life knocks you down, get up.
4. Stay focused, diversions are very costly
5. Be a little paranoid – some people are just plain bad and are out to hurt you.
6. Being NICE isn’t always a virtue.
7. Be a contrarian or go against the tide only if you KNOW you have the ability to follow thru.
8. Go with your gut instincts (If you have the ability to follow thru)
9. Not everyone is cut out for or can do what others do. Don’t imitate. You may not be emotionally equipped to do this. It takes a cast iron stomach and a steel spine to be ready for the emotional pain . If that's not you maybe shouldn't be in business for yourself.
10. People who are not wired for risk shouldn’t be taking risks. If you can’t sleep at night because of the risks you must take to be in business for yourself you shouldn’t put yourself at risk. Business can be too much fun to make people miserable.
11. Sometimes very smart people have the most difficult time with being at risk. Being smart or well educated does not automatically make you able to be in business for yourself. Success in business for yourself has more to do with your emotional makeup than your intelligence.
12. Get the best people you can find to help you, but don’t trust them. People do what you inspect not what you expect. They must respect you. Tell the truth to yourself and others and move on. Sometimes goodbye is a good strategy.
13. Never ever let people step on you, if they know you are tough and smart they won’t be so likely to try to take advantage of you. Don’t ever let anyone take advantage of you.
14. There is such a thing as Luck, Fortune, Favor, Grace. Some people are just fortunate and some things you do will help swing things in your favor. Nothing happens if you try nothing. The harder you work the luckier you get. You can’t win without being in the game. When the Bears win a game, you are excited but you did NOTHING. The only ones who have the right to be excited are the players, owners and managers. The rest are spectators. Only those who participate celebrate legitimately.
15. Some people fight to win but they secretly want to lose. It’s easier to say “I Tried” and fail then to succeed. Success is frightening to many people. Get over your fear of success.
16. When you get into an arrangement, partnership, corporation, business deal nothing you thought you understood or agreed to matters except what is on paper if you come to conflict. The verbal agreement between good people is worth only the paper it’s written on.
17. Think bigger. If you play with pennies you win pennies, if you play with dollars you win dollars, if you play with hundreds you win hundreds. J D Rockefeller said that. I was in Atlantic City recently. I walked thru the casino. I watched people playing with $20 chips, $50 chips and $100 chips. The amount of the reward or loss was directly proportional to the amount at risk. But, it took the same amount of time and brainpower to win a hundred in one hand than to win $20.
That’s why the 10-10 rule exists in my own business. I try to only do business with people who could make a $10,000 purchase in 10 minutes. They may not always make that purchase but they could. The same amount of work goes into the little deals as the big ones. It has served me well.
This is most certainly true.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
He was wise. He planted one of each type of apple. No two alike. Some were planted for the sweet fruit, some for the long lasting storage apples, some for the beautiful flowers, some for the shape of the tree, some for early fruit production and some for the prolific ability to produce much fruit.
Each tree was different. When they were just saplings they were all young and vigorous. They looked pretty much the same. But at time went by they began to do what the DNA they were imbued with caused them to do.
Some apple trees compared themselves to others, some felt they weren't as beautiful as others. Some less fruitful.
No matter how much the orchard master pruned and trimmed and consoled those trees that felt inferior he could do no more than say, "You mustn't repent of what I created you to be".
As time went on in the orchard many crops were produced. From those crops new seedlings were produced and planted in other parts of the orchard. From time to time early there were trees that were injured or damaged by disease or pests. Some died and were removed.
As the orchard became more mature the space between trees was becoming greater. The fact was that as time went on there were only a few trees left.
Then one day in this part of the orchard there was only one left. All alone. Old, cracked by wind and ice storms, rotting from the injury it finally gave up the fight.
The orchard master sadly cut down the old tree. The roots were grubbed out and soon new plants were planted in the place where the old trees had been.
Being the last tree in the orchard was a lonely place. It was almost a blessing to be taken eventually to join the others long since fallen before.
The orchard master smiled as he planted the last of the seedlings produced from the appleseeds of the old trees. Old things forgotten. New things begun.
Such is the cycle of life. Some of us become the few old trees left in the orchard. It's lonely but there is a time to live and a time to die. A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.
But they bore beautiful fruit. They were the best apple trees they could be.
And the orchard master smiled.