Some uncomfortable thoughts on The Kingdom of Heaven

Christ’s mission on earth depends upon the Kingdom of Heaven being expressed in our midst. As my pastor says, “It is what makes Jesus believable.” Yes, it is that important for each of us to know what it is, where it is, and what part we play in its fulfillment. But this is the fact; most of us don’t know what it is, don’t know how to find it, and have little idea what we are looking for. And to be as pointed as I can muster, if we can’t get along, we have little hope of ever experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven; that’s the gist of it—game over. We must grasp this understanding; if we can’t live in forgiveness and contend for reconciliation, not only will we be oblivious to the Kingdom of God, never able to recognize it, we will not enter it. These are somber considerations.

How does a little, staggering verse like the following float by us and nonchalantly end up banked away in our favorite portfolio of scripture memory or on a Christian bookmark? “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you” (Matthew 6:33). God, in His infinite wisdom and majesty, is putting light on the one, true path before us. Are we blind? It seems there should be more than just a smidgen of alarm that we come to grips with the Kingdom of Heaven. It must be the object of our travail, not social justice, not the church, nor Heaven itself.

We must seek His righteousness. That’s a big, HIS righteousness. I am not the quickest to the draw, the guy with the highest IQ, or the Ph.D. in Theology, but I have a clear picture of His righteousness, and it is Jesus. He wants to teach us about this righteousness. But there is a prerequisite; it can only happen if we humble ourselves and receive from Him as little children, ready to be taught.

All the vices we struggle with gain their power from pride. Pride is both the atheist and idolator. Rejecting God’s way and choosing our way, we become the atheist. St. Theresa Avila prayed this beautiful prayer. Govern everything by your wisdom, O Lord, so that my soul may always be serving you in the way you will and not as I choose. Let me die to myself so that I may serve you; let me live to you who are life itself.

The self becomes its idol. (More to come on this shortly)

On the other hand, the Kingdom of God is only found in humility. Andrew Murray says, “Humility is not only one among the virtues; it is the first and chief need of the soul.”

God’s Kingdom is where God’s will is being done. And it cannot be done apart from the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God consists of the people in whom God rules.

Now, back to that “Self,” The Kingdom of Self. The pleasures of this world, sin, lust, the whole of it all, is nothing else but the Kingdom of Self. It is the aggrandizement of pride—I know a better way. I am better than them. The utter horror, deception, and euphoria of sin, self, and pride are only conquered through the continual operation of God in our life by the power of the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we are called to die to ourselves and live to Christ.

What makes Jesus believable? Humble people, gathering in fellowship, among whom God’s will is being done—a bit of Heaven on earth.

#56 of top 100 books George Muller by Faith Bailey

Who was George Muller?

George Müller (born Johann Georg Ferdinand Müller, 27 September 1805 – 10 March 1898) was a Christian evangelist and the director of the Ashley Down orphanage in BristolEngland. He was one of the founders of the Plymouth Brethren movement. Later during the split, his group was labeled as the Open Brethren.

He cared for 10,024 orphans during his lifetime and provided educational opportunities for the orphans to the point that he was even accused by some of raising the poor above their natural station in British life. He established 117 schools, which offered Christian education to more than 120,000.

#67 of Top 100 Books

# 67 of top 100 Books
The Power of Covenant Prayer Frances Frangipane

Who is Frances Frangipane?

Francis is the founder of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids IA and has traveled throughout the world ministering to thousands of pastors and intercessors from many backgrounds.

Francis’ heartfelt prayer is to see established in every city, Christlike pastors and intercessors, united before God, revealing the love of Christ to their communities.

Over the past decades, Francis has served on a number of other ministry boards. However, in recent years he has gradually resigned from these various boards. As of June 2009, he has also retired from his position as senior pastor of River of Life Ministries.

In this more simplified life, Frangipane is devoting himself to prayer and the ministry of God’s word.
His first book, Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God, was a compilation of his essays and sermons. It was published in 1985. He wrote his second book, The Three Battlegrounds, in 1989 when asked to speak on spiritual warfare at a conference in Kansas City. Both these books became best sellers.

Since 1985, he has written fourteen books including four In Christ’s Image Training manuals, which were developed for his online school, plus a number of study booklets.

#68 of top 100 Books I Dare to Call Him Father Bilquis Sheikh

I Dared to Call Him Father is the fascinating true story of Bilquis Sheikh, a prominent Muslim woman. Her unusual journey to a personal relationship with God turned her world upside down and put her life in danger.

Originally published in 1978, the book has sold 300,000 copies and is a classic in Muslim evangelism. The 25th-anniversary edition includes an afterword by a missionary friend of Bilquis who plays a prominent role in the story and an appendix on how the East enriches the West.

We met Bilquis in the late ’70s. She told us of having no awareness of Christianity whatsoever. Then one day, she started having night visions of a man who said he was John the Baptist. She eventually was pointed to a Catholic church to ask who this man was who had invaded her dreams. She was told he is the forerunner of Jesus. Her husband was a very high ranking government official in Pakistan. He disowned her and she had to flee to America. In American and many foreign countries, Billy Graham had her speak in crusades.

# 69 Top 100 Books Read

Forward by Brother Andrew

The KGB held an exhaustive search all over the country for the forbidden publications about Vanya. Agents broke into believers’ houses. In one case, they had a remarkable success. One of the KGB men came across a book, opened it and exclaimed excitedly, “Yes, here we have something about Moiseyev. Look, it says: ‘First book of Moisev.’”
The man had found a Bible. And indeed one of the first pages states, “First book of Moses.” Vanya’s second name and the name of the writer of Genesis are almost identical in Russian!

The Bible held a central place in Vanya’s life and actions. Is there any other book that could have changed him so radically and prepared him for eternity? And is there any other book than the Bible that can change the Russian people, the (Dutch) people and the whole world in the same way?

God’s book speaks about God’s creation. And about the recreative power of God’s Spirit in human beings. It also tells us what atheism is: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” And about Jesus, who through His death and resurrection has the right to world dominion. He alone! And radical acceptance of that dominion also has consequences. This book is about those who have paid the price for following Jesus.
The martyrs. The Vanyas and those who are still in the concentration camps of Russia. They are suffering for the name of Jesus.

I’ve been very moved by this book. And I’ve asked myself, If I should be arrested on account of my faith, could sufficient evidence against me be put forward to convict me? And to make me a “witness-martyr”? In Vanya’s case, the evidence was abundantly available. Hence this book. That’s why he now has the reward: the martyr’s crown.

With fear and trembling, and very reverently before God, I would like to sign my name at the bottom of the application form for that title. Here it is then:

Harderwijk, Holland
25 September 1986