Spreading the Kingdom

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So I was reading the Lord’s prayer today.  You know the one that Jesus taught his disciples.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

Then I stopped.  What caught my attention is the part that says ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.

If Christians throughout history have prayed those words and we have prayed those words, you wouldn’t know it by the headlines.  I don’t see it in the news.  If his kingdom is coming and his will, at this time in history, is being done where is it?

I see war, talk of more war, prejudice, hate, violence, heartache, shootings, looting, abuse and the repeat button gets pushed daily.

Our Prince of Peace, more than likely, is weeping over all we hear and see in the news.

Hatred starts in the hearts of people.  People start wars.  People hate.  People become violent.  People cause heartache.  People are their own worst enemy.  The enemy lies within.

Where is the remedy?  Where is the peace?  It comes through the Prince of Peace and that is a heart issue.

We can’t legislate it, push it, create a law to follow it or demand it.   Even God had laws…the Ten Commandments.  They were all broken.  They were broken not only by them but by us–each one of us.  Maybe we didn’t break all of them but, I can pretty much guarantee, that we each have broken some of them.

Following rules are things that we do outwardly.  It’s a good thing to have a plumb line and boundaries but it’s not what changes us from the inside out.  Before real beauty, love, peace, community, and a ‘one another’ living together in perfect unity can ultimately be brought into the world, it has to come from REAL beauty, love, peace–all that and not only that.  It’s so much more.

It’s a person.  It’s not a religion, a program, a method.  It’s not morality, good behavior, a good example, a good message.  It’s a person.

Once that person…God himself through Christ occupies a person’s heart (the core of his being) then and only then, can the Kingdom come and his will be done.  It happens one person at a time and then has the potential to spread.

When Jesus’ light breaks through the fog of someone’s earthly existence, rest is found and peace follows.

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I needed a ‘Kingdom Come’ person–someone to point me to the truth.  We all do.  We all need truth.  It’s only truth that will set us free from ourselves and that is the only power that can ultimately change our headlines, one headline at a time.

Think about the person who was your ‘Kingdom Come’ person.

Who told you about God’s love?

Who told you that you could never pay the debt or work off your sin?

Who told you that it’s been paid in full?

Who told you that you can live in joy and freedom?

Who told you that you can’t change yourself and being moral isn’t the answer?

Who told you what Jesus’ death on the cross was about?

Who told you that because he is alive and because he lives forever you will too?

Who? What? When?

And if someone never told you then I am.  It’s simple. It’s Jesus.

When Jesus walked the earth, he spoke to two groups of people.  He spoke to the sinners and the self-righteous religious people ( who, by the way, were sinners but they didn’t think they were).  They thought that following the law could save them and make them righteous in God’s eyes.  The religious people hated Jesus, because he loved ‘sinners’ and spent time with them.

The truth is both groups needed Jesus then and they need Him now.

Once we get this straight, we can become ‘Kingdom Come People.’

There’s a world out there who needs Jesus through us–me, you, us!  It needs Christians to spread His LOVE.  One person at a time.

Then we must pray that the seeds of love that we sow will germinate, root, and grow deep into the soil of the hearts whom we share it with so His Kingdom Can Come On Earth As It Is In Heaven.

Written by: Nancy ©pensandjournals.com

There is Singing and there is Light

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As a young child, I can remember my mother singing through the house as she did her chores.  She had the gift of a beautiful voice and she filled our home with it.

I was the oldest and then came my sister, Diane.  We were the first two of six children.  When she and I were very young, my mother often sang us to sleep at night.

There on our bed all tucked in after a warm bath, clean pajamas slipped into, our hair towel dried, and prayers said, she sang.

When darkness set in, often thoughts that weren’t there in the daylight hours would surface.  Like those unrelenting thoughts of monsters that are common in the imaginations of small children.

I needed a glimmer of light somewhere close by to pierce through the darkness.

A night-light tucked in the corner of the room helped.  Or the low-wattage hall light that could be seen shining dimly outside our bedroom door brought some security to me and, I’m sure, to my sister as well.  The twinkle from the light helped ease us into the night around us.

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Then came my mother’s voice, soft, mellow, and sweet.  She sang over us and we became comfortable in our surroundings and slipped off to sleep.

As time went on, my nightly fears lessened and eventually vanished.  But when I think about sadness, depression, hardships, grief, those difficult seasons of life, even as an adult, the night can often be the hardest time of day to make it through.

Our fears tend to heighten when the light slips away.  The difficulties that are challenges during the day can seem like insurmountable mountains at night.

Someday we will no longer have night and we won’t need the sun (or the moon) to give us light.  The glory of God will be our light.  See Isaiah 60: 19-20 and Revelation 21: 22-27.

On the other hand, there is a darkness that can consume us even in the daylight.  This has more to do with the darkness of our soul.  It’s what happens to us when we run away from God–when we think that we can handle life alone.  It happens when we don’t allow his light to penetrate our dark areas.

When we let him in, our eyes open and we see life from his perspective.  We see and know the difference between true light and true darkness and we view everything here on earth–the good, the messy, the awful, the beautiful as it is…temporary.  A light dawns and God brightens our way and illuminates our path.

Isaiah put it this way when he told the people of Israel that a light would be coming into the world:

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Isaiah was prophesying about the coming of Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

It’s easy to get lost in the dark but he actively seeks those who can’t find their way, because he is light and deeply loves every single person that he pursues.

I like that God provided a way to pierce our spiritual darkness.  Whether it’s in the bright of day, or twilight, the evening hours or overnight hours, he is there and is always casting light on our circumstances, our shortcomings and showing us how to maneuver our way through the dark avenues of this world.

He steers us clear of the pitfalls, takes us through detours, over the mountains and through the valleys.

When we think our path should always be easy, he shows us that the easy way isn’t always the best way to get to our destination.

So we follow.  We follow the light.  Allowing him to guide us through this great adventure of life.

When we forget to follow and don’t listen to his words–which are actually light too–( Psalm 119: 105), when we veer off the road, get lost in the dark and cry out for him there he’ll be to guide us back again.

He comes after those who call out to him.  I love that about him, because although he is always faithful we, at times, are not.  Sometimes we wander.

When we lay our head upon our pillow at night, we can always be assured that he delights over us – watches over us – and did you know that he even sings over us?  Zephaniah 3:17 tells us so…The LORD your God is with you…He will take great delight in you…He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Just as my mother comforted my sister and me with her singing, God sings over his children and as our night-light cast a glow through the darkness, Jesus does the same in our life.

After all, we are all like little children to him and he is our father.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga ©2014

When We Need Each Other

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“It’s kind of scary,”  she said.  A young woman, who stood on the threshold ready to walk through a new door, summed up her thoughts with those four words.  It’s.  kind.  of.  scary.

I sat with her for a couple of hours.  I listened, offered some suggestions but those four words didn’t leave me once we left one another and drove home in different directions.

Sometimes doors that we don’t want to go through appear and we have no choice–we have to enter them.  Others may look beautifully inviting but may not be the best ones to open.  She and I tried to sort that out together.

Although years separated that young woman and me, we actually weren’t that different.  It’s the unknowns that lie ahead that can overshadow our faith sometimes.  They can paralyze us with fear if we allow them to consume us.

She was growing up, about to venture out into the world, taking on new responsibilities and she was afraid.

I, a mature woman, recently had a few of my own fears.

My husband, Bob, started his treatment for CML last week.  As he was preparing to take his first dose, I read all the possible side effects from the information sheet that came with it.

That did it.  I allowed my thoughts to spin out of control.  All of a sudden the scenarios of what could happen played out in my mind.  Those scenarios overshadowed my faith.  I began to tread on shaky ground but caught myself before I got too far.

That’s when I asked others to pray for Bob (that he wouldn’t have any adverse side effects from the chemo drug) and that I would regain my peace.

It’s times like this that we need each other.  That’s when we need others to speak back to us the faith that we announced, pronounced and were walking in just hours before.

We aren’t lone rangers.  In a world that glorifies independence it’s difficult, at times, to step back and then turn back to what is true–we need each other.  It’s called interdependence.

Independence proclaims, “I don’t need anybody.”  Dependence says “without you I can’t survive.”

Interdependence throws off pride, doesn’t pretend to have it all together, isn’t a burden on others but knows when it’s time to reach out to someone.

It’s the way we’re designed.  We weren’t designed to handle life alone.

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In our fear we should never be afraid to share what we’re experiencing with the right people.  Often it will lose its grip on us just by telling someone else about it and talking it through.

It also loosens its hold on us when we allow others to carry us to Jesus when we’re too weary or afraid to walk toward him ourselves.

Like the paralytic man in Luke 5: 17-26 who needed someone to carry him to Jesus we, at times, need others to carry us to him when we feel paralyzed by fear.  You’ll notice in the story that Jesus commended the faith of the paralytic’s friends and then ultimately healed the man.

It wasn’t long, not even a few hours, when my fears washed away and faith returned.

Also sometimes it’s good to go to a familiar place where we are alone or a place that we know will help us to enter into the presence of God.

For me, one of those places is the lake near our home.

The night of Bob’s first treatment, after he took his first dose and I asked others to pray, we drove down to the lake.

It was chilly.  We sat in the car and watched the sun begin to set.  Then I walked down to the water’s edge.  Very few people were on the beach in the chill of that evening.  It was peaceful.  Some sunsets are brilliant and other times the sun looks like a ball of fire against a dark sky.  The only way to describe the one before us that night was tranquil.

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Bright light broke through the sky with ribbons of pink around it.  Waves washed up on shore and light reflected on the wet sand from the light above.

As I think about that night, I’m reminded of the words from “Hosanna” by Paul Boloche–“In your presence all our fears are washed away.”  My fears were washed away…in his presence that night on the beach.

With every wave, in the peaceful tranquility of the sun setting, I was able to carry Bob in prayer to the one who would keep him, hold him and use the medicine to heal him and not to harm him.  Other friends and family came to mind too.  As I carried Bob, I carried others.

And today I’m able to carry my young friend in prayer.  The one who was about to walk through a door into the unknown.  The one who spoke those four words to me, “It’s kind of scary.”

Written by: Nancy Janiga©2014