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.

#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

# 70 of Top 100 Books Read–Humility by Andrew Murray

Who was Andrew Murray?
Murray pastored churches in Bloemfontein, Worcester, Cape Town and Wellington, all in South Africa. He was a champion of the South African Revival of 1860. He authored 240 Books! He is the author of one of the two most seminal works on prayer that have ever been penned, his being the most popular: With Christ in the School of Prayer, A. Murray and E.M Bounds on Prayer, E.M. Bounds.
In 1889, he was one of the founders of the South African General Mission (SAGM), because its ministry had spread into other African countries, the mission’s name was changed to Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in 1965. AEF joined with Serving In Mission (SIM) in 1998 and continues to this day. Through his writings and his theology of faith healing and belief in the continuation of the apostolic gifts he became the significant forerunner of the Pentecostal movement.
Sixty years of ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa, more than 240 books and tracts on Christian spirituality and ministry, extensive social work, and the founding of educational institutions—all these were outward signs of the inward grace that Murray experienced by continually casting himself on Christ.
“May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence,” was his prayer. “And not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for him to fill full of his Spirit and his love.” Through his preaching and writing, Murray slowly became an international figure

#95 out of top 100 Books 95. The Master Plan of Evangelism

The Master Plan of Evangelism Robert Coleman, 1963

Dr. Coleman has taught at Gordon-Conwell South Hamilton since 2001, after directing the School of World Mission and Evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 18 years. He is a popular preacher, speaker and teacher, averaging about 35 speaking engagements per year around the world. He speaks in churches, conferences and student gatherings on topics such as the theology of evangelism, the theory and practice of evangelism and the Great Commission. He has most recently spoken at the World Conference of the University Bible Fellowship at Purdue University, conferences in the Ukraine, China, Uraguay and Ethiopia and at churches both in the U.S. and abroad. Widely known for his ministry as a disciple-maker and evangelist, Dr. Coleman currently serves on the Mission America Facilitation Committee and several international mission boards and is the president of Christian Outreach. From 1989-2001, he led the Institute of Evangelism in the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and served as Dean of the Billy Graham International Schools of Evangelism. He is also a founding member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism and a past president of the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education. Dr. Coleman’s scholarly interests include the theology of evangelism, revival and the lifestyle of the Great Commission. Dr. Coleman is a prolific author, having written hundreds of articles and 21 books, though he is best known for The Master Plan of Evangelism. Translations of one or more of his books are published in 109 languages, with English editions alone exceeding 7 million copies.