The Kingdom of Jesus Christ

For the most part I like to keep my writing brief and easy to read, but now I feel the urge to do a few posts on a subject thoroughly hashed over by Christians for ages:
What is – and where is – the Kingdom of Jesus Christ?

This topic may not interest a lot of my readers, but I’ll tag these posts Prophecy so you can follow them if you’re interested in what I have to say on this subject. I want to look at some of the prophesies and the theological potpourri we’ve waded through in our day, hoping to shed some light and not spark too much heat. But before I start, I’ll give you some of our background so you’ll know…

Where I’m Coming From

Outside of weddings and funerals, my family rarely darkened a church door. Mom F was a believer and packed me and my siblings off to Baptist summer camp for a week every year, so I went through the “getting saved” bit and leaned some things. I recall Mom going to church a time or two, but earning the daily bread was demanding for her. My Dad F had no use for religion.

One I hit my teen years, as a nominal Christian, I started asking the same questions many others were asking. Like:
Why does God allow evil to win? Why didn’t Hitler and Stalin die young from cancer or a heart attack, when so many good people do?

— Seeing the news from Northern Ireland, I asked, “How can people who both claim to be Christians kill each other?”

— Abortion was a hot topic in the late ’60s. Reading US news, I wondered, “How can Christians who say it’s wrong to kill unborn babies threaten people’s lives and even bomb an abortion clinic, targeting doctors and nurses?”

— And later, “How can Christians insist the State should have no part in the affairs of the Church, then turn around and lobby the government for laws outlawing moral issues like divorce and same-sex marriage?”

We asked these questions mainly because cynical was cool. It showed intelligence and open-mindedness to contest traditional beliefs. We said we were seeking for truth, but really, we liked our questions; we weren’t necessarily interested in hearing any convincing answers. Nevertheless, these questions are valid. People who sincerely seek for truth deserve a more in-depth answer than, “Because we’re right and they’re wrong.”

My husband’s parents were both raised in religious homes and joined the Anglican (the Church of England in Canada) when he was eleven; he was confirmed at the same time. But over time he, too, started to question, and had all but abandoned religion by the time we met. Still, he had a longing to know the truth, which led him to read the Bible with an open mind. Its truth convicted him. After a personal crisis he gave his life over to God about a month before we were married.

Some months after we were married we decided to start attending some church and picked one where other folks we knew also attended. Four years and several different churches after we were married, I began to realize I was following rules, but not Jesus. I had a serious debate with God one evening and he won. I totally committed my life to him at that point.

Evangelicals and Prophecy

Needless to say, being quite untaught in Evangelical thinking, we had a lot to work through. One thing we gathered fairly quickly: theories on “The Kingdom of Jesus Christ” and how it appears – or will someday appear – on earth, have bemused a lot of religious people. In the past two centuries especially, oodles of prognosticators have explained how it’s all going to play out – and it hasn’t.

David Wilkerson’s The Vision: A Terrifying Prophecy of Doomsday that is Starting to Happen Now! (1974) and Hal Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth (1970), were popular when we first became Christians, but my studious husband read a number of books on prophecy, hoping to get a handle on the coming kingdom we were hearing about. I feel for anyone who’s mired in an eschatological slough, studying book after book on prophecy, because we’ve been there ourselves.

There are so many different ideas about what, when, and where the Kingdom can be found. I think this confusion affects believers today, just as it affected us in our “new-born” days. Christians’ concepts of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, right and wrong, have even motivated political decisions in the past and likely will in the future — especially in America. Douglas Frank, in his book, Less Than Conquerors, does an accurate analysis of shifting evangelical doctrines and political views in the late 1800’s.

Which leads to the question: If Christians are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom, what is our role in the country where we live physically? How do we handle our “Permanent Resident Alien” status?

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. — Colossians 3:1-2

Book: Beachworth Bakery Bears

A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-book by Frank Prem

This is a delightful and easy way to step back into childhood, when teddy bears could talk and move about. These bears are supposed to sit on shelves at the Beachworth Bakery and coffee shop, politely waiting for someone to come along and adopt them, but they’d rather be exploring and having fun — as revealed in Frank’s clever rhymes.

I bought a copy a few days ago and enjoyed it myself. Now I’d like to read this e-book to my grandchildren and hope it will be coming out in a paperback before long. The photos are excellent and it would be fun to sit down and go through the book with young children and grandchildren.

Currently Reading…

WHY JESUS by Ravi Zacharias

I’m finding this book an intriguing commentary on the mixed bag of truths being offered to seekers in our day. In the first part of the book the author discusses the electronic media, its effect on society, how it’s altered society’s acceptance of truth. The media we view in our own homes has subtly exchanged the “old values” for a new truth — one that we want to believe. None of us can escape the effect of this change, he points out, because even if we aren’t viewers ourselves, we’re surrounded by others who are.

Then he examines the illusive nature of New Age Spirituality circulating in North America today. The West, because of the basic principles of freedom we subscribe to, is so willing to cast of the old and accept new religions. He notes that, in the countries where these religions have been established for centuries, nothing new or different is tolerated. New Age gurus may attack the Judo-Christian foundation of North America and people will hear them gladly, but go to one of those countries and you risk reputation or even life for even suggesting a different religion — as many Christian missionaries have discovered.

Peeking at the coming chapters, I see that he predictably concludes with “the message of Jesus Christ…both timely and timeless.” A message he himself embraced as a young intellectual, recovering in the hospital after attempting suicide. Though he knew very little of Christianity, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, if you are who you claim to be, reveal yourself to me and take me out of my desperate situation and I will leave not stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.”

The Book I Chucked

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is MARTYR. I could take a lot of avenues, either religious or secular, with this one, but I’ll give you this brief rant book review.

SUMMER AT SEA, a light romance by Beth Labonte

Have you ever read a book that you were ready to toss across the room after the first chapter? I started one a few years back. This long-suffering twenty-something chick, writing in first-person, sees herself as a martyr to her parents’ bumbling stupidity. How did they ever survive before she was old enough to help them sort everything out?

Okay, I’m old. Old enough to be this girl’s mother. Old enough to find this kind of parent-bashing offensive. I will admit the story is well written and the story line draws you in; you do want to see how they made out. If you can put up with the voice of this know-it-all chick. The fact that the book won an award shows how popular chick-lit is.

Have you ever chosen a book just to see if it’s as bad as the reviews say it is? (I confess, I have — if it was free.) Maybe you’re even ready to check this one out after reading my review? Some other readers have given it five stars.

Here’s part of the blurb on Amazon:
Four jackets of varying weights, enough socks for the entire Confederate Army, three umbrellas, most of the antacid aisle from the local pharmacy, and six pairs of old people sneakers that all look exactly the same. Have you ever helped your parents pack for a week-long cruise?

No? I didn’t think so. So shut it.

So begins vacation for Summer Hartwell – twenty-six years old, living with her anxiety-ridden parents, and unwillingly booked by her brother on a cruise to Bermuda. Despite the nightmare of being trapped aboard a cruise ship with Mom and Dad, Summer sees a rare opportunity to fulfill The Prophecy – her mother’s declaration that she will live at home until she gets married. With two thousand passengers onboard, at least one of them must be husband material, right?

And now for some polite humour:

Friends + quote.Bansi Patel
Basic image by Bansi Patel

Books: Calm Before the Storm

Just re-released in Kindle form:

Calm Before the Storm
by Janice L Dick

Calm Before the Storm (The Storm Series Book 1) by [Janice L. Dick, The Mosaic Collection]If you enjoy historical fiction set in Europe, here’s a compelling story for you that’s well written and well researched. Exciting, at times quite tense, this is the story of a Christian family living through the turbulent times of the Russian Revolution.

In the 1700s Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, invited an number of German religious groups to move in and establish themselves in the fertile farmland of the Ukraine and they were doing well for themselves. The Russian serfs had been freed some time before this story begins, but they received no land or help from their government and had to survive however they could.

As the 1900s began, severe poverty and hunger had made the peasants desperate. The government of Tzar Nicholas was imploding, a political cyclone was stirring, and some of the Russian peasants were starting to look resentfully at the prosperous German communities around them.

The Hildebrandts were one of many families in the prosperous Mennonite communities. Heinrich, the widowed father, sixteen-year-old Katarina, the beautiful fourteen-year old Mika, her mentally unbalanced brother Peter, and the two youngest siblings Anna and Kolya (Nicholai) were enjoying the good life on a beautiful estate, scarcely touched by the winds of change until the Great War started.

Entwined with their story is the experience of Johann Sudermann, hired to tutor the younger children, enthralled by the lovely but super-efficient Mika. Though the Mennonites had been granted exemption from the army when they first settled in Russia, soon after the war begins all conscientious objectors must report to work camps. Johann and many others were sent to the medical corps to care for wounded soldiers however they could. The Russian army was so overwhelmed and under-equipped that defeat was inevitable.

We also get cameos of Johann’s childhood Russian friend, Paul Tekanin, as he goes to St Petersburg and joins the Bolsheviks in their plan to overthrow the Tzar. Excerpts from his life give readers a picture of the deplorable state of affairs in St Petersburg before the Revolution, with the mad monk Rasputin pulling the strings.

I’m impressed with how well the author has researched the historical background for this story and interweaves it with an accurate account of day-to-day life in the Mennonite community at that time. Together with the Hildebrandt family readers can experience the joys of prosperity, the fear of a looming collapse of government, the immediate effects of war, and their faith that God will bring them through, come what may.

An Interesting Book

Hi Everyone,

I’m reading an interesting book right now, DIGITAL DETOX. the author describes technological addiction and the effects it has on a person’s ability to function. Here’s one danger: becoming an avid procrastinator.

Technology puts a myriad of distractions at our fingertips. It’s no wonder many tech addicts have a tendency to procrastinate. Our gadgets provide us with countless opportunities to be blissfully unproductive.

And here’s the book on Amazon.com, in case you want to check it out for yourself:

Digital Detox: The Ultimate Guide To Beating Technology Addiction, Cultivating Mindfulness, and Enjoying More Creativity, Inspiration, And Balance In Your Life! by [Damon Zahariades]