We had a reasonably quiet weekend. Steph and Emily are both sick, so we basically locked ourselves in our room and “vegged”. I was able to get caught up on a bunch of reading, which was nice. Here are some things I read and learned:
Finished Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People by Glenn Packiam. You should read this book. Not just because Glenn pastors the church we attend here in Colorado Springs, but rather because it presents a beautiful (and easily understandable) look at the Beatitudes and the Kingdom of God. It is well-written and packed with truth.
I read about a third of The Sermon on the Mount by John Wesley. This volume is a collection of Wesley’s sermons and commentaries on Matthew 5, 6 and 7 (aka The Sermon on the Mount). As with most of Wesley’s sermons, these aren’t for the faint of heart. Sermons in Wesley’s era were much deeper than a lot of the sermons we hear today. Yet, these are loaded with deep truth of God’s Word and His Kingdom. Well worth the read (keep a dictionary handy).
I read the Psalms. I can’t even begin to tell you the beauty that I find in these chapters. Wow. I am convinced that it is impossible to walk away from a reading of the Psalms and say, “That was a waste of time.”
I read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. This quartet of books by the Apostle Paul make up my second favorite book in the Bible (Job is first). While the overall thematic ideas are the same between the four, Paul tweaks each one just enough to give you the nuggets of truth in different ways. At the heart, though, is a recognition that grace supersedes all else. And through that grace we are made to be the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians, we get this incredible cosmic view of God followed by a “this is then how we should live” section. Finally, Paul says, “You can’t do that on your own, so let me tell you how to walk in the Spirit.” Even though God is BIG, He is still relational and wants to walk through your day with you. Beautiful.
I read First, Second and Third John in five translations. I love John’s epistles. John gives us a view of the love of God unlike any other view in the Scripture. Written toward the end of John’s life, he has come to understand what Jesus was trying to teach back in the Sermon on the Mount. Love must be central. All else is noise unless there is love (1 Corinthians 13). John came to a deep understanding of this revelation and then said, “Here, church, live this.” Throughout his letters to the four churches (Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, and Colosse), Paul prays that they may have a deeper revelation of that love. To Ephesus he writes, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and huh and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). The Love of God.
Finally, I caught up on the news from around the world (by specifically reading media out of about 7 geographical regions, 4 other areas with socio-political situations currently percolating, 2 other areas that God is talking to us about). The world is a hurting and broken place. It’s chaotic. It’s confusion. It’s darkness. Yet, we know the Light! We know the Bringer of Orderly Order! And we look for Kingdom to come in those situations. We pray. We hope. We give. We work.
So, how do I sum up what I learned this weekend?
- God is a big God with big plans, dreams, goals, and visions.
- God is not just “some god” who chooses to take an inactive role in the universe. Rather, He is constantly working (ofttimes quietly) to set up His Kingdom. Yet, He needs His people (you know, “those called by His name…” (2 Chronicles 7:14)) to be active through prayer, giving, and service in order to bring that Kingdom to pass.
- Jesus came to show the world that the law wasn’t just a set of rules to follow. Rather, at the heart was a Heart. A big Heart. A Father’s Heart. The law was written because people didn’t love, honor, and serve one another. So, Jesus sits on a mountainside and tells a multitude that there’s more than just not murdering, or not seeking vengeance, or worrying about tomorrow. That more, as Paul and John teach us, is that there is a Father. That Father loves us beyond our comprehension. And, as a response to that love, we should love others beyond comprehension.
- No matter how dark a particular situation may be (I’m thinking of North Korea and some things I learned about it earlier in the week), God is at work in the background. He’s preparing. Piece by piece. Poco y poco. Bringing it all together. The darkest hour is just before dawn.
- Finally, keep praying. Prayer unlocks things. Prayer changes things. Prayer positions things. As Karl Barth said, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” (Acts 2 prayer class, that should sound a lot like John 1.)