Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks...

Josh and Sammy arrived from Knoxville today around 2:30 a.m. It's Thanksgiving Eve, and Sandy and I are thrilled to have family with us. As soon as the sun rose high enough, so I could see, I went out and did some work with the chainsaw (no injuries). Clearing away brush and creating sight lines around The Shire gives me more joy than I can express. Later in the morning, Josh and I took a walk in the woods and picked out a spot for the possible harvest of a deer. Now, all of us are in full "chill mode" drowsily watching the Hobbit trilogy.

We are grateful for the life with which we've been Providentially blessed. To us, our home is the mythical Shire of J. R. R. Tolkien's robust imagination. Surrounded by pastures and mature forests, a bass pond to the east, and a canopy of a billion stars perforating the night's black sky, never a day passes without our giving thanks. Sharing the serenity and beauty of this place with family and friends brings us great joy. A couple times each year our children are able to gather here with us. Their friends filter in and out, and we are blessed with an atmosphere of celebration. Lord willing, this Christmas, we will all be together once again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Vote...

He [God] gave them the desires of their heart, but sent leanness to their soul. ~ Psalm 106:15

Our form of government and political processes gives citizens of the United States the right and privilege to choose between two major political party candidates (or independent candidates) to elect one of them as President. Last night Donald J. Trump was declared winner. Millions of Americans voted.

I don't believe the outcome was the result of Divine intervention. As I wrote yesterday, Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world. Neither do I believe all Christians agree with the position I just stated.

Maybe we would agree on this much--at least within the broader "Christian" community. How a country and the individuals in it votes does reveal much about their view of how the world should work, and so to a great extent their view of how God believes the world should work. God does not stop such processes, even if, as the Psalm above says, the desires of our heart have long since abandoned the desires of His. The Psalm also reminds us--with the freedom of choices come consequences.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

My Kingdom Is Not Of This World

[Jesus said] My kingdom is not of this world... Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice" Pilate said, to him, "What is truth?"  ~ John 18:36

Just hours before he was crucified, Jesus said to Pilate, My kingdom is not of this world. Jesus is clear,  "I am a king, but not of this world system you represent."

From this dialogue we know there are two kingdoms. Jesus stands before Pilate, an authoritative representative of one of those kingdoms. Pilate does not represent Jesus' kingdom. In Pilate's world, Jesus is disdained and eventually murdered for the truth he spoke.

Jesus' kingdom, and the kingdom of this world, remain in conflict to this day. Why? Because Jesus said his kingdom is a kingdom built upon truth. That would mean the other kingdom is not built on truth. Also, Jesus declared himself the source of truth. Any other kingdom--to be truthful--would need to be a reflection, and echo the truth Jesus declared. That is not the case in our world.

This helps us understand why in the United States we are witnessing such a contentious struggle as we elect our President. Both persons vying for the Oval Office say they represent the truest beliefs and culture and will of the citizens of the United States of America, but neither candidate believes there is such thing as absolute truth. Within the U.S. there are many people who believe there is.

So, let us be clear. Whichever kingdom you identify with you feel conflicted. Christ's kingdom declares there is truth. But the kingdom of this world, rather than echoing Jesus' witness, echoes back Pilate's answer, "What is truth?"

From there, "truth" becomes subjective, and the two kingdoms come in conflict.