Kingdom of Hope

Lately I’ve found myself hopeful. This is unusual. I’m not usually that hopeful. In fact, I’m usually kind of a cynic. After all, what do I have to be hopeful about? I’m involved in a denomination that is struggling to survive. We don’t understand the culture. We can’t seem to figure out what we are doing wrong, yet we continue to offer up grand plans and ideas of structural changes (some drastic) that we believe will make a difference in, what I believe, is an ontological problem.

I find myself serving a church that has a wonderful history, but finds it difficult to reach outside the walls. The people are wonderful and loving, yet they find themselves fully involved in their own survival. The church struggles to make ends meet and has been doing so for at least the past 12 years. People continue to give more money each year, but the increases in insurance, energy costs and salaries leaves us wondering how we will continue from year to year. Leaders are difficult to find and it seems once leaders are found they are relocated for employment purposes. Yet, our church seems to be fairing better than the majority in our denomination.

So, where do I find hope? Where do I find consolation? To be honest it is a place where I wouldn’t have guessed. I shouldn’t be surprised, yet, I am. For I am finding hope in the parables of Jesus.

I find hope when I read that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is so small…the smallest of all seeds, yet, from that seed a mighty shrub grows. One where the birds can find protection from the storms. One that is stronger and bigger than any other. When I read that, I have hope.

I have hope when I read of the farmer going out and sowing seed. He sleeps, he awakes, he sleeps again and that seed sprouts and grows. He doesn’t even know how it is happening, but it is. Then, at the right time, the harvest comes. When I read that, I have hope.

I have hope when I read about the man who found a treasure in a field and hid the treasure. He went back home and sold everything he had! Everything! He then we back and purchased that field and he was overjoyed. He gave up everything he had so he might embrace the one thing that could bring him joy. That brings me hope.

Jesus says God’s kingdom is like plants that grow, even though we don’t know why, and the smallest seed becoming the largest shrub, and a man giving up everything he has to embrace the One Thing that brings joy. I’m realizing that the kingdom of God isn’t about me. It is about God and what God is doing in this world. I can’t orchestrate it. I can’t control it. I can’t even really understand it or at times even see it happening. It’s okay when small things happen. It’s okay when I don’t understand where I’m being called. It’s okay that I am being asked to give up all that I have, so I might embrace the kingdom God invites me too. It’s okay, because God’s kingdom brings hope.

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As I take time to process the last 6 years of my l…

As I take time to process the last 6 years of my life (try that some time), I’m discovering that I’ve learned many things. Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learned is about people. I’ve also learned something about money and power. It seem like those three things go together (but not real well).

I understand people wanting “a better life.” Hey…I want a better life. But when I see what this desire can do, I understand Paul telling us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Well, that is kind of harsh. I mean, we don’t really _love_ money do we? We just want a better life for our kids. So, we work hard, save, etc.

Of course, we might purchase the bigger house, build a pool, buy a DVD player…after all, we work hard. God understands all that right? I mean, if we are giving our 10% shouldn’t we feel good about what we are able to purchase and shouldn’t we be able to live guilt free?

I’m writing this post on my brand new HP Laptop. So..don’t think I’m trying to lay a guilt trip on any one other than myself. I admit, I am in the consumer mindset just like many other americans. I don’t always see it in myself. It is much easier seeing it in other people.

There will always be people who have more money than I do…a bigger house…a nicer car…a better laptop. God calls us not to envy..remember. However, there will always be people with less money that I have…a smaller house..a broken down car..no laptop. So, what am I suppose to do???

To be honest, I don’t know. What I feel like is that God wants me to realize the position I am in…be greatful for what I have and also be graceously generous with what I have (actually what he has given me).

Yes, it is easier when you see others…in power positions…not using the power to bless or benefit others, but rather benefiting themselves first..others second. What makes a company a “christian company” anyway? Is it tha a company is made up of christians, or that those in power wield their power in such a way that the company is a blessing to the employees, the community, the world?

I have no answers…only questions I guess. But one thing I have learned in 6 years, is that people, money and power, don’t always mix real well. Perhaps that is why Jesus knelt down in front of the disciples and washed their feet. Of course, we don’t understand the full impact of that act. Perhaps it is like the CEO o a large muti-million dollar company washing the employees cars…or taking out their trash.

Either way, Jesus did it. He did it as a lesson, because it is easier to say things, than to do things. Jesus did it. He calls me, no matter where I line up in the economy of “things” to do the same.

– Dave.